Written by LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports
As the San Diego Chargers prepare to host the Miami Dolphins this coming Sunday afternoon, a much greater cloud continues to form above. That is the form of time running out for the Chargers being in San Diego. This game could very well be the final game as San Diego Chargers as the NFL’s December 30th deadline for home teams to place their stadium bids and plans is approaching.
For most of the season, and last season for that matter, it has been an open-ended element to the NFL’s current relocation race. The constant unsettled and unsettling in the San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland markets and who is staying and who is leaving. There are at most two seats and three teams vying for them, and that means as the competition has intensified between the Chargers, Rams and Raiders, so too has the anxiety level within the organizations, if not quite as high perhaps within the locker room.
Most try to deflect the level of distraction this has on their team and their on the field play, but it has been no secret just how much off the field distractions truly are. Hence what is currently happening with the San Francisco 49ers over last couple of years.
Nick Hardwick, longtime Chargers center who retired after 11 seasons in February and joined the franchise’s radio broadcast team as a sideline reporter. He gives his perspective on the current status of the 2015 Chargers and how the relocation is impacting the team.
“If I’m feeling as anxious and uncertain as I am—and I’m not in the building on a daily basis but my career is attached to this building and this team—then I can only imagine what the guys in the locker room feel like. This season started off pretty bad, and I would say it’s only gotten worse as the team’s dropped more and more games.
“It’s been hard on everybody. I guess I would liken it to a child that’s going through their parents’ divorce. It’s really hard to deal with, and you don’t know what’s happening, you’re just stuck in the middle. You’re involved and you’re affected but you don’t really know how you’re affected, but in some ways deeply you are affected. I think the team and the coaches and the players have to be feeling that.”
“A child that’s going through their parent’s divorce?” This without question is a perfect use of words to describe the relationship between the San Diego Chargers and the City of San Diego. What most will casually forget is that is has been in the make for almost 18 years now. Started in 1998, when the Chargers and the City of San Diego would only renovate the current facilities at Qualcomm Stadium. There was another renovation after but that also still did not meet the NFL’s requirement to grant the City of San Diego a Super Bowl bid.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis the one team that has the most desire and is showing it with actions to move is Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He is strong-arming the NFL to allowing his team to be moved to Inglewood and apart of the Los Angeles NFL plan. However, recently there has been another monkey-wrench thrown into Kroenke’s attempt.
St. Louis city officials took a key step Friday toward keeping the city’s NFL team, the Rams, by approving a plan to fund construction of a new football stadium. Following months of the debate, the proposal passed 17-10, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The ball is now in the court of the NFL executives and owners. While the plan approved Friday was a necessary step, it was also imperfect in the eyes of the league. The proposed new stadium in St. Louis would cost some $1.1 billion, $150 million of which would come from the city. The plan calls for the NFL to chip in $300 million, with the state and team owner chipping in the rest. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday sent a warning letter to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and his stadium task force, saying league policy is to provide no more than $200 million for a stadium. Nevertheless, the plan has been proposed since the December 30th deadline, which if the NFL does approve the plan, means that the Rams are taken out of consideration when the relocation votes are tallied in the NFL meetings January 12th and 13th.
As for the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders, who are the third team in the mix, they have been working together all season long to get a plan together. They have acquired land in Carson, California, both for the stadium and land around it to develop other key money making developments (Housing, shops, food etc..).
This Sunday game against the Dolphins is scheduled as the last home game of the season for the Chargers. Their last two are on the road against the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos to finish the 2015 season. The writing on the wall says this game could very well be the last NFL game played in San Diego. IF everything falls into place. If there were odds in Vegas, they would favor the Chargers playing their final game in San Diego.
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