The Chargers, who began their NFL existence in Los Angeles 57 years ago before moving to San Diego after their inaugural season, are headed back up Interstate 5 to join the Rams in the City of Angels.
The worst-kept secret was made official Thursday morning. At 11:04 a.m. ET, the Chargers tweeted this letter from owner Dean Spanos confirming the move:
A letter from Dean Spanos pic.twitter.com/rTNIvrsN1A— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 12, 2017
"After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season," Spanos wrote. "San Diego has been our home for 56 years. It will always be part of our identity, and my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years. But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers.
"L.A. is a remarkable place, and while we played our first season there in 1960 and have had fans there ever since, our entire organization knows that we have a tremendous amount of work to do. We must earn the respect and support of L.A. football fans. We must get back to winning. And, we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community. The Chargers are determined to fight for L.A. and we are excited to get started."
A short time later, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell issued a statement of his own:
"For more than a decade, the San Diego Chargers have worked diligently toward finding a local stadium solution, which all sides agreed was required. These efforts took on added intensity in the last two years. A year ago, NFL owners granted the Chargers an option to move to Los Angeles. Rather than immediately exercising that option, the team spent the past year continuing to work on finding a stadium solution in San Diego.
"The Chargers worked tirelessly this past year with local officials and community leaders on a ballot initiative that fell short on election day. That work - and the years of effort that preceded it - reflects our strongly held belief we always should do everything we can to keep a franchise in its community. That's why we have a deliberate and thoughtful process for making these decisions.
"Relocation is painful for teams and communities. It is especially painful for fans, and the fans in San Diego have given the Chargers strong and loyal support for more than 50 years, which makes it even more disappointing that we could not solve the stadium issue. As difficult as the news is for Charger fans, I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego."
In the weeks and months leading up to the announcement, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported that the Chargers felt that they have no choice but to move to Los Angeles due to the tenuous stadium situation in San Diego.
La Canfora has also reported that the NFL would rather have the Chargers in San Diego, even if Spanos thinks he has a better chance of financially succeeding in L.A. On Tuesday, La Canfora reported the league office and several owners have "grave concerns about the potential of having two teams" in L.A.
And yet here we are.
There was a belief that the league might pony up extra funds for a potential stadium in San Diego, or offer the team a subsidy to keep the Chargers in town, but such an offer didn't come on Wednesday.
The decision to relocate was a difficult one for Chargers owner Dean Spanos, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, but with no stadium resolution in sight, and the Rams already a season into their move, "Spanos believes he needs to start fighting for the Los Angeles market as soon as possible."
While that may be true, it sounds like once Spanos leaves there will be no turning back. Here's Marty Caswell, who covers the Chargers for 1090 Sports Radio:
And a reminder to National types that San Diegans had ONE stadium plan to vote on in 15 years. And a hastily thrown together plan at that.— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) January 12, 2017
One lousy plan to vote on. One. 5 mere months after team was rejected on plans to move to Carson. Blame is on team & politicans— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) January 12, 2017
He will not, once/if they go. Whatever legacy his father built has been irrevocably destroyed forever. Biggest SD sports villain ever https://t.co/BucNEY5PVV— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) January 12, 2017
"At first, I hoped it was fake news. It's something that is unfathomable, but it is reality," Hall of Famer and Chargers great Dan Fouts said.
Current players were blindsided by the news too.
"More than anything, I'm shocked," Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "I didn't think it was going to happen. I thought we were going to stay in San Diego. ... I thought something would've got done and worked out. ... So I guess L.A. is our new home then."
Wide receiver Keenan Allen added: "It's different to hear the Los Angeles Chargers, but it should be dope."
But there's no guarantee the Los Angeles version of this team will be the Chargers.
Can confirm the #Chargers will consider rebranding. Won't happen in time for 2017 - if at all - but absolutely under consideration— Vincent Bonsignore (@DailyNewsVinny) January 12, 2017
So what might the logo look like?
New Chargers logo will feature letters LA, arranged similarly to Dodgers logo. Lightning bolt instead of horizontal lining in two letters. https://t.co/GqcRDU3dRk— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) January 12, 2017
And we have visual evidence, too. The team wasted little time debuting a new logo.
There's also the matter of where the Chargers will play. The Rams currently call the 90,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home until their shiny new stadium is complete in 2019. According to Pro Football Talk, the Chargers will play in a professional soccer stadium for the next two years. Specifically: The 30,000-seat StubHub Center, the home of MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy.
As PFT notes, "The StubHub Center gives the Chargers a chance to market a very unique experience, giving fans an intimate environment for watching a pro football game." That's one way to spin it but what happens when the Chargers can't even sell out a 30,000-seat stadium?
So, in summation: If, after watching the Rams go 4-12 in their return to Southern California, you thought, "You know what Los Angeles needs? Two NFL teams!" then this is your lucky day. For those Chargers fans who no longer have a team in San Diego, it's something much less than that.