Dean Gets Shafted By The League
In a wonderful moment of schadenfreude for many of the Bolts faithful, the league's owners voted 30 - 2 to permit Kroenke's Inglewood Complex to move forward. The Carson landfill can safely remain the resting place of regular garbage and not a receptacle for an unholy union of San Diego flotsam and Northern California variety trash.
This deal does give the Chargers first crack at relocating into the Inglewood facility, provided Spanos and Kroenke, can work out a deal. Becoming the 2nd LA team will make certain that Mr. Spanos and the Bolts will be in the Rams and Stan Kroenke's shadow forever.
Dean thought he had the votes to block the Rams' move. Rumors and an early vote suggested that Carson and Dean's relocation was possible. A secret vote revealed that a lot of the owners that Dean thought were his buddies may not have been such great friends after all. As we used to say in Clairemont -- "Oh well."
Based on descriptions that came out of the meetings in Houston, Dean was a little miffed to find out that some of his fellow owners may have not been straight - up with him. Peculiar to think about that a Billionaire may not like getting mislead anymore than the regular Joes and Janes that he wants to buy tickets. Which brings us to...
The Salted, Scorched Earth In San Diego
"I've said all that I'm going to say."
"We have submitted nine separate plans for a new stadium."
"The City hasn't worked with us at all."
These and other statements by Spanos or his surrogates, all of which have varying levels of accuracy and veracity, have created a pretty difficult situation in San Diego. While it is obvious that the city's politicians presented little more than a fig leaf of "we tried", the Bolts claim of being the only ones putting forth viable plans and working with the city is laughable, too.
The team had precious little goodwill after walking away from negotiations last summer and the team's behavior during the season (including losing 12 games) has probably zeroed out that account at this point. This leaves the Spanos family with about the worst circumstances it could have imagined; a fan base that is sick of the drama, emotionally detached or actually hostile, and a distasteful choice in relocation. So what choice does a proud man have?
Painted Into A Corner
Owning an NFL franchise is secure employment and a virtual license to print money, but in many ways, Dean Spanos may be about the closest thing to a lame-duck owner that there is after this affair. It would surprise me if the perception of betrayal did not cloud any further dealings Dean Spanos has with the league. As for future dealings with the city? Hard to tell, but this has gone way past the point of fence mending with the fans and the city.
It does not take a lot to ruin a long term relationship, especially if it is a "business" relationship. The earth may be too scorched for the team's current owners to get anything done with the fans and political leadership. Dean's failed power play has made every option an exercise in swallowing pride, reaching out in humility, and making some serious compromises. It remains to be seen which set of bad choices Mr. Spanos is comfortable with.
A Great Time To Sell
Walking away from every humiliating choice HAS to have crossed Dean's mind by now. Getting $1 Billion (or more) for the team, letting this whole mess become somebody else's problem, and getting Alex Spanos looming estate issues dealt with has to be a temptation at his point. And the timing is pretty good; not perfect perhaps (that may have been in 2006-2009), but good.
The Chargers have had 3 owners since 1960. Baron Hilton only owned the team for 7 years, before selling the team to Gene Klein. Klein owned the team until 1983 and then sold the team to Alex Spanos. The circumstances of those sales is interesting:
Klein bought the team at the beginning of a long playoff drought, but had enjoyed significant success in the years prior to the sale. They had one of the QB's in the league (John Hadl) and a hall of fame receiver (Alworth)
Spanos bought a team that had been successful in recent years, but was at the start of a playoff drought. The team had one of the best QB's in the league (Fouts) and a hall of fame tight end (Winslow).
Neither Hilton nor Klein had had threatened to move the team and filled a reservoir of ill-will the way that Dean Spanos has. None of the previous owner had been put in such an unfavorable position by their peers, either. The torch may not be comfortable to pass, but it is probably better than hanging onto to something that just keeps getting more uncomfortable to hold.
Sell the team, Mr. Spanos. Let another owner deal with the indifferent city and PO'd fans.