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Poor performance of stadium measure leaves Chargers with no good options

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio discusses the remaining options for the Chargers now that the people of San Diego have vehemently rejected the team's latest stadium initiative.

The Chargers currently don’t have a viable stadium option in San Diego, a reality underscored by the inability of the ballot measure to get at least 50 percent of the vote. So what comes next?

At this point, no one knows. Chargers owner Dean Spanos has said in a statement that the issue won’t be addressed until after the season. If that happens, it will leave the Chargers with only two weeks to negotiate to conclusion an agreement to relocate to Los Angeles as a tenant or partner in Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s new stadium in Inglewood. Unless the Chargers plan to discreetly trade terms with Kroenke over the balance of the season, the Chargers and Rams won’t have much time to work out a complicated, delicate, long-term arrangement to share not just a stadium but a market that may not be thrilled about the prospect of supporting two NFL franchises.

Meanwhile, Kroenke would have plenty of leverage in that two-week window, driving a harder bargain possibly aimed at keeping the market to himself. Absent a league-encouraged agreement to give the Chargers another year to finalize the deal (and then another year after that, and then maybe another), it could be very difficult for the Chargers and Rams to strike such an important agreement by January 15.

Barring some other viable relocation destination (and there really isn’t one, unless the Raiders can’t finalize a deal to move to Las Vegas), the Chargers will have to find a solution in San Diego. The combination of the law requiring a two-thirds supermajority and an electorate that was unwilling to even get the team to 50-50-plus-one makes the prospect of public money a long shot.

The prospect of the Chargers making another run at a taxpayer-funded project hinges first on the California Supreme Court deciding in an unrelated case to drop the threshold from 66.6 percent to a simple majority. If that happens, the next question becomes picking the right year for another run at the votes necessary to get to a simple majority. The local thinking is that the best chance to getting to 50-percent comes during a high-turnout election. Which means the next presidential election in 2020 would be the most likely target.

Coincidentally, the Chargers’ lease runs through 2020. Which means that they have the luxury of time -- if, that is, their window to move to Los Angeles somehow can be extended.

Thus, the best prediction at this point is that, barring an agreement by January 15 to leave for L.A., the Chargers will wait for the Supreme Court ruling and, if it’s favorable, plan a stadium push in 2020. The key will be to kick the can on the Kroenkeworld scenario, allowing the Chargers to bolt for L.A. as late as 2021, if a last-ditch effort to build a new stadium with free cash from the government in 2020 fails.

Here’s the challenge if the Chargers become a year-to-year proposition in San Diego: Fans will have a hard time remaining engaged with a team that may decide after any given year to leave. Although it was believed before the failed vote that the Chargers ultimately would not leave, the poor performance of the ballot measure could be the catalyst for an abrupt and sudden decision in that two-week window in early January to pack up and leave.