San Diego Chargers
Issue: Stadium upgrades
The Spanos family of owners is nothing if not clear about its desire for a new stadium. The Chargers have played at Qualcomm (QCOM) Stadium under each of its various names since 1966. It got its last facelift in 1997 just in time to host the Super Bowl in 1998.
It last hosted a Super Bowl in 2003, and the NFL's stated bluntly that San Diego will need a new stadium if it wants to host another Super Bowl any time soon. Unfortunately for the Spanos clan, the recent economic downturn coincided with a slump in the Chargers' play that's kept the team out of the playoffs since 2009. The Chargers have failed to sell out home games five times in that stretch and have received pushback from San Diego on plans to finance a downtown stadium.The Spanos family has since listened to offers from Escondido, National City, Oceanside and Chula Vista, which wants the team renamed the Chula Vista Chargers as part of its proposal. The most intriguing scenario for the team, and perhaps the most troubling for fans, is a move to Los Angeles. The Chargers have been linked to at least two Los Angeles stadium proposals and spent a season there in 1960 before moving to San Diego a year later. If any fans still think the Spanos family will offer a hometown discount to keep the Chargers in San Diego, consider the family's explanation for shunning a new NFL policy that would allow teams to "sell out" home games at 85% stadium capacity and prevent those games from being blacked out on television in the home market: "We're in one of the oldest stadiums in the league, and don't have opportunities that other teams have to increase revenue with things like a bigger naming rights deal or digital signage," executive vice president and CEO A.G. Spanos told the North County Times a few weeks before blacking out a preseason home game. "We rely heavily on ticket sales as a primary revenue stream. This market has shown an ability to sell out games over the last 10 years, and we need to take advantage of that."