San Diego Chargers
Issue: Stadium upgrades
We could have just lifted last year's entry and left fans none the wiser, but it's worth noting that absolutely nothing has changed the Chargers' tenuous situation in San Diego.
The Spanos family of owners really wants a new stadium -- noting that the Chargers have played Qualcomm Stadium under each of its various names since 1967 -- but the taxpayers have absolutely no desire to pay for it. The stadium got its last facelift in 1997 just in time to host the Super Bowl in 1998 and hosted yet another Super Bowl in 2003, but the NFL has stated bluntly that San Diego will need a new stadium if it wants to host another Super Bowl any time soon.
Those pulling for the Chargers to stay have suggested redeveloping the Qualcomm Stadium site at no cost to taxpayers, but the Spanos clan is fielding better offers. Chula Vista and Escondido have made pitches, but 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.
Meanwhile, the recent economic downturn coincided with a slump in the Chargers' play that's kept the team out of the playoffs since 2009. After selling out 48 straight games through 2010, the team has blacked out games for lack of attendance nine times since -- including half of the 2012 home slate.
Still, the Spanos family has remained hostile toward San Diego, 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. The worst part is that the Spanos' current stadium deal gives them the option to leave on a yearly basis, which forced the NFL to issue an announcement last year that the Chargers would, in fact, play in San Diego in 2013. San Diego taxpayers, meanwhile, responded by electing former U.S. Rep. Bob Filner as the city's mayor after he vowed not to publicly subsidize a new Chargers stadium -- though Filner's extracurricular indiscretions ended his days in office early.
The people of San Diego are showing some rare backbone for an NFL city by standing up to their needy franchise. It might cost them a football team, but general consensus is that it's still a discount compared with what the Chargers' demands may end up costing them.