The Chargers might be struggling to make fans in Los Angeles, but there's a reason that the NFL isn't panicking yet, and that's mainly because the team is apparently going to have a lot of time to develop a fan base in their new city.
According to Pro Football Talk, when the Chargers moved to L.A., the team signed a "firm" 20-year lease to serve as a tenant at the new stadium being built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The lease means that even if the the Chargers wanted to leave L.A., they wouldn't be able to do it until after the 2039 season.
The Rams have been selling sponsorships and advertising for the stadium with the understanding that two teams would be playing there, which is why it would likely be nearly impossible for the Chargers to get out of the lease.
Of course, the Chargers could leave after 20 years since that's when they'll finally have the option to move again. According to PFT, the Chargers' lease includes two 10-year options. Basically, if the Chargers actually build a fan base and want to stay in L.A., then they could exercise the first 10-year option, which would run from 2040 to 2049. If things are still going well, the Chargers could exercise their second 10-year option, which would presumably run from 2050 to 2059.
The fact that this lease exists might be why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. At the NFL owners meeting, Goodell said the league wasn't worried about the Chargers failing in L.A. because they still had plenty of time to build a fan base. The feeling from the league is that the fans would flock to the team as the Chargers and Rams get closer to the opening of their new stadium in 2020.
"That excitement is going to build as we get closer, as we are still two years away," Goodell said. "There is lots of football and lots of building still to do. We were out of the market for a long time. We have to earn our way back with our fans."
With the Chargers locked in to L.A. for at least 20 more years, the NFL has to be hoping that things get better. It's only been one-and-a-half seasons and the move is already starting to look like a disaster. The most recent blow came on Wednesday when it was reported that the Chargers had to cut revenue projections for their personal seat licenses (PSL) by $250 million from $400 million down to $150 million.