There were other questions on the ballot that will have a bit more impact nationally, but voters in San Diego County have overwhelmingly rejected a plan to develop a new stadium for the Chargers. That leaves the team’s future in the city in serious doubt, and the Chargers now have until Jan. 15 to decide whether to move to Los Angeles or take another run at a local stadium.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters released figures early Wednesday morning which indicated that out of 254,000 voters, the measure trailed by a factor of 58 percent to 42 percent. Because the measure called for a tax hike dedicated to a specific purpose, it needed to pass by a two-thirds majority.
“In terms of what comes next for the Chargers, it’s just too early to give you an answer,” owner Dean Spanos said in a statement to Chargers fans. “We are going to diligently explore and weigh our options, and do what is needed to maintain our options, but no decision will be announced until after the football season concludes and no decision will be made in haste.”
The measure would have raised the city’s hotel tax from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent and, in theory, would have raised $1.15 billion to pay for the new stadium and conference center. The Chargers and the NFL would be responsible for another $650 million.
The Chargers began playing in Qualcomm Stadium in 1967, making it the fifth-oldest stadium in the NFL. One of the others, the Los Angeles Coliseum, is a temporary home. Two of the others, Soldier Field and Lambeau Field, are frequently-updated icons. The fourth, Oakland Coliseum, may soon be abandoned by the Raiders.
“The outpouring of support from friends like you, and so many others, has been heartwarming throughout the campaign,” Spanos said, “and I will continue to be mindful of that in the weeks ahead.”
The team faces few appealing options. The Chargers have already received approval to move to Los Angeles and share a new stadium with the Rams, though if the Raiders’ deal to move to Las Vegas falls apart, the team could edge out the Chargers. The Chargers could remain where they are, though the lease for Qualcomm expires after the 2020 season. The team could also take another shot at a stadium in San Diego, but that appears to be a tough fight. And there could be bureaucratic or legislative solutions as well that ease the path to a new stadium, but those appear unlikely.
One way or another, by the time the next presidential election rolls around, the San Diego Chargers are liable to look very different.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.