Chargers owner Dean Spanos comfortable in L.A., looking for permanent home

Chargers owner Dean Spanos, left, is greeted as he arrives for the annual NFL owners meetings. AP Photo/Ralph Freso

PHOENIX -- Despite a bumpy transition that included a 0-4 start after relocating his team two years ago, Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos has settled into new surroundings in L.A.

"There isn't anything that we didn't expect to happen that's happened," Spanos told ESPN during a conversation at the NFL owners meeting this week. "We knew it was going to have its challenges, but we feel really good. People have been great up in L.A. and Orange County, and we still have support down in San Diego. I see people all of the time coming up.

"It's nothing we didn't expect, and we feel pretty good about it."

The Chargers finished 12-4 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Now, Spanos said it's important to keep building on that success on the field, and a key for the Chargers in carving out a niche in Los Angeles will be the completion of the new Inglewood Stadium, set to open in September 2020.

"Besides winning, it might be the second most important part," Spanos said, pounding the table for emphasis. "When you go see it, it kind of blows you away. It's incredible, and I think people are going to be excited to see this experience.

"People aren't going to believe it until they see it. And people are going to want to be there. It's kind of destination place. It's going to be exciting. It's not a ‘typical' stadium where you just walk in, watch the game and walk out. There's a lifestyle there that I think people are really going to enjoy."

The Chargers also are in the midst of a search for a new home in Los Angeles.

Currently, the Bolts house their team headquarters in Orange County at the Hoag Performance Center. The Chargers are in the third year of a 10-year agreement, with the option to part ways in five years.

Fred Mass, recently hired as team's chief of staff last year, is leading the effort of finding a new facility. Maas also served as the point person for the Chargers push for a stadium during the team's final season in San Diego.

Maas said the organization has looked at a variety of options, from doing a smaller version of the Dallas Cowboys' team headquarters, called The Star (a 91-acre, public-private partnership), to building a stand-alone facility.

Maas, 61, said for more than a year he has been working on finding a permanent facility in L.A., assessing more than 25 opportunities in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Along with the push for a new facility, Maas is tasked with establishing the team's fan base in Los Angeles. Maas said the Chargers' recent success on the field has helped in those efforts, including an uptick in ticket sales.

"Finding the right place is going to take some time," Maas said. "As I said to Dean, the more we win the better-looking partner we are. It's kind of like getting in shape and going on a diet, suddenly there's been a lot more opportunities that have come recently than before. So I think patience is our friend here."

Mass said a Chargers' contingent toured The Star and spent half a day there when Chargers played Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day two years ago. Along with that, Mass said the Chargers also have toured the Clippers' and Lakers' facilities in L.A.

"We're full-go on trying to find our permanent facility," Spanos said. "And we're looking everywhere, all over L.A. and Orange County. We haven't excluded anything. This is going to be our identity. And maybe it's the third part in terms of importance to us being the Los Angeles Chargers -- the product, the new stadium and our new facility."

Spanos said he'd like to find a new, permanent home for the Chargers sooner rather than later.

"ASAP," Spanos said. "We want to do it right. There's no rush because this is going to be our permanent home, and we want to make sure it's the right location, the right everything.

"So we're taking our time, but there is a sense of urgency and maybe it's my impatience, but I want to get there. I want a new home for us and a permanent home. I think it's important."