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Chargers Reportedly Almost Guaranteed To Move To L.A. In 2017

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Since the beginning of 2016, the San Diego Chargers have been mulling a move to Los Angeles as they looked for a new stadium. Now, that reality looms closer than ever. "Barring a miracle," the Chargers will be coming to L.A. in 2017, says a ESPN report from Thursday night.

ESPN's Jim Trotter sent out a couple Tweets on Thursday saying that he believed that the Chargers are almost guaranteed to come to Los Angeles:

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The Chargers currently have an option to move to the forthcoming Inglewood stadium being built for the L.A. Rams. This agreement was struck up during an NFL owners meeting in January, when the Rams, the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders were all looking at a possible move to Los Angeles. The Chargers have up till January 15 to make the decision. If they pass on it, the option then falls to the Raiders (though they're likely moving to Las Vegas).

Reports say that Chargers owner Dean Spanos likely won't make a decision until the end of the regular season, which happens on January 1. "Dean has said that he wants everyone to be able to focus on the remainder of the Chargers' season, and so [he] won't be making any final decisions until after the season is over," Mark Fabiani, who works in the Chargers' front office, told ESPN.

The latest (and biggest) blow to the prospect of a new stadium in San Diego came in November, when voters decided against a couple of measures that would have helped bring a new facility to San Diego. If passed, the measures would have relied on a hotel tax hike to help fund the projects. The measures were defeated in decisive fashion; not only did they fail to get the required two-thirds majority vote, they barely cleared a 40% approval count. Residents were concerned about who, exactly, would end up paying for the projects, Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for a group that opposed Measure C, told LAist. "The hotel tax isn't a steady stream of revenue. It's volatile. If there's a dip in the economy, who backs up that debt? It'll be San Diego tax payers," said Manolatos.

In November, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. wrote to LAist to say that he "had no contact with anyone to indicate whether or not the Chargers ownership will declare their intentions in January," but also added that the city "would welcome the Chargers if they declare their intention to join the Rams in Inglewood." He also noted that there's a clause in the Chargers' agreement that would allow them to postpone their relocation decision to January of 2018—this would be enacted if the team sets up a public financing deal with city officials by this upcoming January 15.

Thomas Powell, director of communications for Save Our Bolts, a group that's organizing to keep the Chargers in San Diego, says that reports of the Chargers' impending move are exaggerated. Powell believes that Trotter's tweets were based on information leaked by the Chargers' office, which is trying to gain leverage as it works with the city's mayor in striking a new stadium deal. "You could report on what you hear, but what you hear is what one party wants you to hear," Powell told LAist. "It doesn't mean it's anywhere near fact." He adds that if the Chargers were to move, he doesn't expect many San Diegans to tag along for the ride. "I'm sure some fans would go along with it. But I don't see the majority of fans going with the team," said Powell.

If the Chargers do come to the Inglewood stadium, they would be tenants of Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The teams will share certain revenues (from naming rights, to sponsors), but they'll be selling their tickets separately. The stadium won't be completed until 2019, so the Chargers, if they move, will have to find a temporary home (as well as training facilities) in Los Angeles.

LAist has reached out to the Chargers but no one was immediately available for comment. We also called Inglewood City Hall, but were told that it's closed every other Friday.