NFL owners still say best place for Chargers is San Diego

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Back in January, NFL owners voted to approve the Rams relocating to Los Angeles, while creating an option for the San Diego Chargers to move to the Inglewood Stadium project at a later date.

While fans in St. Louis were left without an NFL team, most owners still feel the same on the subject of relocation: They would like to keep teams in their current markets when possible.

The league presented updates on the Rams, Chargers and Raiders stadium efforts here Monday. The Chargers are scheduled to release designs, a finance plan and a citizens’ initiative process for a new stadium/convention center expansion in downtown San Diego on Thursday.

New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said he’s optimistic the Chargers can get something done that keeps the team in San Diego.

“I am very hopeful that things work out for the Chargers in San Diego,” Tisch said. “I say that because I really do feel Dean Spanos would like to keep the team in San Diego. But there’s so many things that have to happen, and some of the things are out of his control.

“When you don’t have the control that Stan Kroenke now has in Los Angeles, you have to hope things fall into play that are determined by other people -- by the city of San Diego, by the mayor and who’s going to put up some of the money. ... But I’m optimistic for them in that market.”

Tisch also pointed out that if things do not work out in San Diego, the Chargers have the option to move to Inglewood in 2017.

According to the relocation agreement between the two teams, the Chargers have a one-year window that ends on Jan. 15, 2017, to move to Los Angeles as the second team at the Inglewood project.

The Chargers can extend that option to Jan. 15, 2018, if a referendum for public financing in San Diego is not approved prior to Nov. 15 of this year.

The Raiders are granted a conditional option to accept the second team opportunity with the Rams, effective on the day that the option to the Chargers expires.

The Chargers and Raiders were given an additional $100 million in financial support for a new stadium if they stay in their home markets.

“The way that those contingencies for both the Chargers and the Raiders were negotiated and presented to the full ownership was very smart,” Tisch said. “Not everyone thinks it’s fair, especially St. Louis fans -- and I’m sure some San Diego and Oakland fans. But I think when you consider that these teams, the Raiders and the Chargers, do have some time to sort things out, I think it’s a very good resolution.”

Tisch said it would be good for the league if the Chargers remain and San Diego continues to be an NFL market.

“I don’t think disruption is always good,” Tisch said. “I understand the Rams’ situation, and I’m personally very pleased with the way it worked out. But I think pulling a team out of its home base is a last resort.”

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II echoed Tisch’s comments. Like Tisch, Rooney said his first choice would be for the Chargers to remain in San Diego and the Raiders to remain in Oakland.

“They’re focused on a different site than they were before,” Rooney said. “I know there’s a lot of work to be done. But I think they’re working hard to see if they can get it figured out.”

Rooney, who served as chairman of the NFL owners committee on Los Angeles opportunities, said the league looked at the possible oversaturation of the L.A. market by moving two teams there and believes that would not be an issue.

“We talked about that and I don’t think that’s a concern,” Rooney said. “I think the real question is can the Raiders and Chargers get something done so they can stay in their home market. I think that’s the real issue.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis is forced to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens with the Chargers. The Raiders negotiated a one-year lease extension to remain at the coliseum in Oakland, but have no long-term stadium solution to stay in that city.

Davis said he loves the San Diego market but has to remain patient as the Chargers work through all of their options.

“Right now we’re just kind of in a holding pattern,” Davis said. “We’ve been basically locked out of Los Angeles, or Southern California, until the Chargers make a decision. So we’re staying away from that and giving Dean his opportunity to make the decision that he wants to make for his team.

“Once he makes a decision, that will determine what Southern California city might be available to us.”

Even though he lost the race to Los Angeles, Davis said there’s no bad blood between other owners about how things went down in Houston two months ago.

“Absolutely not,” Davis said. “Not from me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the good news is we came in third place. The bad news is it was a three-horse race.

“You don’t get a bronze medal for that. But you get your butt kicked, you get off the ground, wipe yourself off and you move forward. That’s what you have to do in life. And you learn that in this business. Every Sunday is a different thing. You win some and you lose some.”