According to former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, the team will be staying in San Diego, even if the stadium funding initiative gets shot down on Election Day.
“The Chargers aren’t going anywhere,” Smith said during an interview with the Mighty 1090-AM in San Diego. “Rest assured the Chargers will be here.”
Just to make sure Smith was clear, host Kevin Acee asked him if that meant that the Chargers would be in San Diego “forever.”
“Correct,” Smith replied.
Smith then added that he had several NFL sources tell him that there was no way the league would let the Chargers leave.
“San Diego is coveted by the National Football League and the owners,” Smith said. “The league wants a team here, they want them to stay here.”
Although the Chargers might point out that they’re allowed to move to Los Angeles if the stadium vote in November falls through, Smith says that move will never happen because the Chargers and Rams want nothing to do with each other.
“There is no option to go to L.A.,” Smith said. “The people I talk to, my sources, you hear options, there’s an option to go … and there’s paperwork that says [there’s] an option, but the reality is that there’s no option. L.A. has the Rams there and it will be the Rams.”
According to Smith, the Rams will get the L.A. market to themselves as a favor from the league. Apparently, Rams owner Stan Kroenke wanted to move the team in 2015, but didn’t go through with it because the NFL asked him to hold off for a year.
“The Rams were going to go to L.A. in 2015, they didn’t need anyone else and they were on their way,” Smith said. “And my sources told me, as far as the league, they said to Mr. Kroenke, ‘Please, just hold off for a year, just stay where you are.’ And it was granted. He stayed. Not a problem.”
Anyway, if Smith’s right about everything, then the NFL’s game of relocation musical chairs could be coming to an end soon. If the Chargers are staying in San Diego, that leaves just the Raiders as the NFL’s final nomadic team, and that might not last much longer.
The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee voted on Thursday to recommend the team’s $1.9 billion stadium project in Las Vegas, which means the we’re one small step from seeing an NFL stadium being built in Vegas.
If the Nevada State Legislature votes to approve $750 million in public funding for the stadium, then a Raiders move to Vegas would only need to cross one more hurdle: 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners would have to vote to approve it, which would likely just be a formality. It’s unlikely the league’s owners would turn down $750 million in public money.
All that being said, the ultimate wild card play here could be something Smith didn’t even mention: the Chargers moving to Vegas.
Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman mentioned the possibility of a Chargers move to Nevada back in May. At the time, it didn’t seem too plausible; however, with everything going on now, it definitely seems more possible than it did four months ago.
For Goodman’s statement to become a reality, three things would likely have to happen: 1. A Vegas stadium gets approved (looks likely), 2. The Chargers stadium initiative fails at the ballot (very possible), 3. The Raiders strike a stadium deal in Oakland (very unlikely).
Raiders owner Mark Davis has continuously said that he’ll stay in Oakland if he gets a new stadium. If the city of Oakland, which has refused to offer any public money to any sort of stadium project, miraculously comes up with an acceptable deal, that would mean the Raiders would likely stay.
If the Raiders stay, then an NFL stadium would be getting built in Vegas without an NFL team, and that’s when Goodman would likely call the Chargers.
Of course, the Chargers have plenty of time to figure things out. Although their option to move to LA is set to expire in January 2017, they do have the ability to extend the option to January 2018, which means we could be looking at two or three more years of relocation talk before we know exactly how it’s all going to play out.
Source: CBS Sports / Ex-Chargers GM says he knows which city team will be playing in next year