Spanos took cash and ran — 56 years of his­tory be damned

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - TIM DAHLBERG

For once, Roger Good­ell was right. Dean Spanos did ev­ery­thing he could.

Ev­ery­thing he could to fleece the peo­ple of San Diego. Ev­ery­thing he could to alien­ate a fan base that re­mained far more loyal than he de­served un­til the bit­ter end.

Ev­ery­thing he could to pre­tend he cared about those fans when all he re­ally wanted was a new sta­dium and the ex­tra mil­lions it would bring.

Yes, re­lo­ca­tion is painful, as Good­ell noted in his state­ment bless­ing the Charg­ers’ move to Los Angeles. For­tu­nately for Spanos, the pain of leav­ing San Diego will be less­ened by the op­por­tu­nity to sell per­sonal seat li­censes some 100 miles north.

As for the pain felt by those left be­hind? So long suck­ers!

THE CHARG­ERS are mov­ing to Los Angeles, which greeted the news Thurs­day with a col­lec­tive yawn. No danc­ing in the streets, no long lines to buy jer­seys with that spiffy new LA logo.

No pep rally, ei­ther, though that was un­der­stand­able. Might have been em­bar­rass­ing if they held one and no one showed up.

They did show up at Charg­ers head­quar­ters in San Diego, but there wasn’t much cheer­ing go­ing on. In­stead, fans gath­ered to toss their Charg­ers jer­seys and other team para­pher­na­lia into a grow­ing pile of trash to show their dis­gust over hav­ing their team of 56 years taken from them.

Greed can be a funny thing. Blinded by it, Spanos and his min­ions were able to jus­tify rip­ping a team from the fab­ric of a com­mu­nity for over a half-cen­tury.

Blinded by it, they’re tak­ing the Charg­ers into a city where they have no fol­low­ing and (even­tu­ally) to a new sta­dium where they will play se­cond fid­dle to the Rams.

A city that doesn’t need — or seem­ingly want — a se­cond NFL team.

In­deed, the Raiders mov­ing to LA would have made a lot more sense. They played there for years and have a ready-made fan base that re­ally would have been danc­ing in the streets had their team been re­turn­ing.

The Charg­ers are, well, just the Charg­ers. They have no Su­per Bowl crowns, and no real pedi­gree to speak of.

Noth­ing to get ex­cited about in laid-back LA, even if their new logo looks sus­pi­ciously like the one fea­tured on Dodgers hats.

THE MOVE IS per­plex­ing at best, es­pe­cially if Spanos ends up hav­ing to pay his fel­low own­ers a $650 mil­lion re­lo­ca­tion fee to move. That might have been money the team could have put to­ward a new sta­dium in San Diego — along with $300 mil­lion from the NFL — had it not been so ob­sessed with get­ting tax­pay­ers to fund it.

But greed usu­ally wins out. And the fact is the team Spanos owns will be far more valu­able in Los Angeles than in the smaller mar­ket of San Diego.

Then again, maybe

Spanos just felt he had no choice. Af­ter all, how could any self-re­spect­ing NFL owner even show his face among fel­low own­ers if he failed at the same kind of ex­tor­tion that has served the league so well in city af­ter city around the coun­try.

San Diego said no, with res­i­dents vot­ing in Novem­ber against a tax hike for a down­town sta­dium. City of­fi­cials were never ter­ri­bly ea­ger to empty their wal­lets for the team, per­haps be­cause the last time they bailed out the Charg­ers in the 1990s the deal re­quired the city to buy any un­sold tick­ets to games for 10 years.

The money isn’t there in Oak­land, ei­ther, to pay for a new sta­dium for the Raiders. It is in Las Ve­gas, though, where tourists will shoul­der $750 mil­lion in new taxes to lure the Raiders to a new sta­dium just off the glit­ter­ing Strip.

THE NFL IS in the midst of its big­gest re­lo­ca­tion shift, with three teams pos­si­bly leav­ing their long­time homes within a few years of each other. The league is do­ing it with its typ­i­cal ar­ro­gance, seem­ingly with­out fear of alien­at­ing en­tire cities to the prod­uct.

That kind of ar­ro­gance makes it easy to ra­tio­nal­ize leav­ing a city of fans be­hind be­cause they didn’t cough up enough money for a glit­ter­ing new sta­dium. The kind of ar­ro­gance dis­played by an­nounc­ing the move on Twit­ter, and un­veil­ing a new logo surely in the works even as the Charg­ers left fans dan­gling on their in­ten­tions.

Just like that, the Charg­ers left town, head­ing up In­ter­state 5 with­out even say­ing good­bye.

Leav­ing be­hind a sta­dium and fans who just weren’t good enough for the NFL.

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