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Would the Chargers be a success if they came back to San Diego?

There was a report about NFL owners and executives being concerned about the viability of the Chargers in Los Angeles. It also said the Chargers are looking to slash their revenue projections.

Question: Assuming they can find somewhere to play, could the Chargers be a financial success if they returned to San Diego?

YES: But not under Spanos family ownership. They have burned too many bridges here in San Diego. New owners, new excitement and new attitude equals new finances.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

YES: Each NFL team received $255 million in shared revenues during 2017 primarily because of the league’s television packages, before even considering ticket sales. The Chargers belong in San Diego as commentators, players, coaches and fans often still refer to the “San Diego” Chargers. Encompassing the 17th largest metropolitan in the nation, larger than many other NFL markets, the team obviously could be successful here. San Diego-Tijuana’s combined multi-regional population represents more than 5 million residents.

David Ely, San Diego State University

NO: To be financially successful, in the sense that the team’s value would increase, the Chargers would need to recapture and expand their fan base in San Diego, have taxpayers or city visitors provide substantial funding for the construction of a new stadium, and be relieved of obligations associated with the move to LA and being a tenant in the new Inglewood stadium. The likelihood of overcoming all of the obstacles seems small.

Gina Champion-Cain, American National Investments

YES: The financial structure of the NFL is designed to ensure success of each and every franchise. TV, ticket and merchandise revenue sharing programs treat teams as a league unit as opposed to competitive entities. The NFL’s financial design is a masterful monopoly that leaves no franchise behind, no matter how poorly run. The Chargers were successful here, would be upon return or in any city as would any other NFL franchise.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

YES: The television ratings show that there is still interest in the Chargers in San Diego. The big problem is that a lot of fans hold a grudge against the Spanos family. If the team was sold and moved back, it would do really well, especially since the team is winning now. Fans who have missed football would flock back and the new ownership would be welcomed as heroes. It would certainly do better than if it remained in Los Angeles.

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

YES: The Chargers were a profitable franchise in San Diego and would be again if they returned, though they likely lost some fans with these maneuvers. They claimed they needed the taxpayers to build them a fancier stadium in San Diego, but then they moved to a far inferior stadium in Los Angeles where nobody shows up for the games. It’s hard not be cynical about the way the NFL owners treat the fans.

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

YES: The Chargers may very well return to San Diego. First, the Spanos family sells to an ‘ego’ buyer who will pay too much. Next, that owner bleeds from declining revenues, and deeply discounts a sale to a San Diego ownership group. In the NFL, the big pot of revenue is from TV, not ticket sales. But those are linked. If people don’t pay to go to the games, then they are probably not watching. That will not sit well with other NFL team owners who share in that revenue, and who may ultimately pressure a local sale, where there is a supporting fan base.

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

NO: The Chargers are about as financially viable as the West Virginia coal miner’s investment fund. When cities started to throw lavish public subsidies to keep private professional teams in their region, the prices of such sports teams shot into the billions. The reality is that most teams will never get a solid payoff without huge public subsidies. The true value of unsubsidized teams would be a fraction of today’s prices. With more realistic values the owners could still get a reasonable return.

Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions

NO: They made a business decision to move to Los Angeles and its unlikely they will return to San Diego unless it were under new ownership. I am sure the Los Angeles Chargers will do everything they can to make it work in their new home. Time to move on.

YES: (Note: I am not a football fan). Charger fans seem jaded by the team’s unabashed pursuit of public money to fund their private enterprise and their willingness to abandon fans in the process. Ticket sales are likely to be depressed if they return, but this could fade if they become a successful franchise. Yet, a change of ownership may be required to make a redemption tolerable. Plus, “could” is hard to deny. I wager: unlikely.

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

NO: The only way the Chargers could be a financial success in San Diego would be if after five years of trying in LA, somebody decides to buy the team, move them back and build a new stadium somewhere in San Diego County. The team will survive, if not thrive, in LA and never return so root for them — or not. Rivers, Gates, Gordon, Bosa and Ingram might just win them over this year.

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University

NO: Despite the anger of many San Diegans, the Chargers might again be accepted in San Diego. Other teams, such as the Rams, have switched back and forth between cities. However, many barriers could prevent profitability. How much would be the NFL charge for relocation? How much would the Chargers have to pay to use an existing venue or build their own stadium? Although fans might return, taxpayers are unlikely to support subsidizing even a team that wins on the field.

John Sarkisian, Motion Ventures

YES: Clearly the Chargers are struggling to find a fan base in Los Angeles. The Chargers have a long history in San Diego and less competition for fan dollars if they return to their home here. I predict we will see a change of ownership in the not too distant future and the real possibility the Chargers will return to San Diego when that change of ownership occurs.

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

YES: If the Chargers were to return to San Diego, they would be embraced by most. But they’d need to genuinely want to make San Diego home, not just see how much they can get from fans and taxpayers in exchange for staying here. Perhaps the Chargers could develop the existing stadium site, saving the city the cost of subsidizing a new stadium while it reaps the tax revenue. The Chargers’ costs would be offset by real estate development revenue. And if neither of the Qualcomm stadium propositions pass, the Aztecs still will have a new stadium in which to play.

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