It’s been known for some time now that the NFL has every intention of putting a team in Los Angeles. The league has also noted that it is not thinking of expansion at this point. Put those two notions together, and we know that one of the current franchises in the NFL will be in Los Angeles sooner or later, and all indications are that the time frame falls in the “sooner” category.
The Chargers are the clear frontrunner in any relocation talks with the Rams trailing in 2nd place. The Rams could potentially leave St. Louis following the 2014 season, making them available for a move back to L.A. The Chargers, on the other hand, have an annual lease termination option from February 1st through April 30th. This option would allow them to buyout the lease and relocate the team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are often cited as a team that is likely to relocate, but relocation would be very tricky for the team. If the Jaguars move before 2017, owner Shahid Khan would have to pay former owner Wayne Weaver $25 million. On top of that, to get out of their lease, the Jaguars have to show losses of three consecutive years, something that’s virtually impossible in today’s NFL.
The Chargers have been unhappy with Qualcomm Stadium for some time. The stadium holds just over 70,000 fans in its football configuration, but the team has a difficult time filling it. Age has also become a major factor. The stadium was built nearly 50 years ago, and it’s no longer what we would consider a “modern” sports facility.
The one hurdle the Chargers have in relocating is that they must demonstrate to the league that they have done everything in their power to secure a new stadium/renovations to their current stadium before the league would allow them to pursue a facility in another market such as L.A. At this point, I don’t believe the Chargers have engaged the city of San Diego at a sufficient level as the Vikings did in Minnesota. I don’t believe the team would have to spend the better part of a decade in pursuit of a new facility, but they would need to be more vocal in their talks with the city. If the city rejects the team’s reasonable offer, the NFL would almost surely allow the Chargers to pack up and move down the road.