San Diego Chargers struggle to get a new football stadium

The San Diego Chargers have played at Qualcomm Stadium since 1967.
(Donald Miralle / Getty Images)

The Chargers have been working since 2002 to get a new stadium in San Diego. The team has been at Qualcomm Stadium since 1967, and the venue shows its age. It doesn’t have the luxury suites or club seating of modern NFL stadiums, and the video boards and scoreboard are outdated, as is the signage.

In agreeing to do away with an arrangement in which the city bought all unsold general admission tickets, the Chargers negotiated an escape clause in their lease that allows them to relocate after every season without the threat of a lawsuit.

The club’s latest stadium proposal is for a downtown venue that’s part of a convention center annex. That would involve a November 2016 ballot measure to ask for public assistance. Any new stadium proposal in San Diego would be put to a vote and would, under the California Constitution, require two-thirds approval — an extraordinarily difficult standard.


The market doesn’t support the sale of preferred-seat licenses, so the franchise couldn’t use the financing mechanism that was essential to the San Francisco 49ers getting their deal done in Santa Clara.

The Chargers do not have the support of the San Diego hotel industry in building the team’s proposed stadium/convention center facility. Hoteliers want any expansion of the convention center to be contiguous and not in a separate facility.

The Chargers say 25% of their season-ticket holders come from Orange and Los Angeles counties, and that the club would incur significant financial damage were another NFL team to relocate to the Los Angeles market. Also, the Chargers would lose leverage to get a stadium deal done in San Diego if the option to leave for L.A. were off the table.