Dean Spanos and his family have screwed over San Diego for the last time. Barring some crazy turn of events, Spanos and his two idiot sons will take their football team away from “America’s Finest City.” They will head up the road to play second fiddle to the Rams in a town that doesn’t want them. The Spanos family will do that because, like spoiled children, they didn’t get exactly what they wanted in San Diego. I’ve loved the Chargers since I could breathe, but I have one thing to say to that family and their organization after how they’ve treated my city the past decade: Good riddance.
Exactly one year ago on this website I wrote a lengthy piece that explained why Dean Spanos was a liar. Nothing he has done in the intervening 12 months has changed my opinion of him. He’s a man who has repeatedly delivered gut punches to the city of my birth. San Diegans typically love everyone. After all, it’s hard to get upset when you reside in paradise. Despite that, I’ve lived in this city for two-thirds of my life and never met anyone with a nice thing to say about Dean Spanos. In San Diego, that’s truly remarkable. Now it’s time for him and his family to go and never come back.
So Dean, that house overlooking La Jolla Shores that you love to show off? Pack it up. If this city isn’t good enough for your football team, it shouldn’t be good enough to live in. Get the hell out, we don’t want you. You’re no longer welcome in the most welcoming city in the country. Move to LA with your team. Enjoy the traffic. Enjoy the inflated cost of living. Get a bad facelift and an awful tan so you can fit in with the rest of the super-rich Angelenos in their mid-60s.
Do your grandchildren like growing up here? It’s a shame you’ll have to explain to them why their hometown now hates their family and they have to move. Have any friends throwing parties or whose kids are getting married? Send a gift, spare us your presence.
Spanos is the same guy who chose the vile Mark Fabiani as his spokesman and adviser through the stadium negotiation process. Much of the narrative that “the Chargers and the city of San Diego just couldn’t make it work” came from Fabiani and Spanos. In reality, Spanos was the reason a deal wasn’t struck because he refused to actually negotiate. He wanted every concession to go in his favor and wanted the public to fork over a massive chunk of change as well. He tried to hold the city hostage and strong arm the citizens into paying for a garish monstrosity of a stadium downtown.
The Chargers belong in San Diego, and a whole lot of people tried to do whatever they could to keep the team. In fact, there is a deal on the table right now (as there was last year) for a stadium in the Mission Valley area of town. It’s viable and could be agreed to in five minutes, but it’s not the deal Spanos championed. He wanted his own palace on the water at nearly twice the cost, and wanted San Diegans to foot a huge portion of the bill. Guess what? We stood up to his demands and offered him an alternative. We refused to be bullied by a billionaire and his outlandish demands. The result? Spanos is taking his ball and going to a new home.
Rather than compromise and wind up with his own stadium, Spanos is choosing to move to a city that doesn’t want him and be an errand boy for a man with the worst hairpiece in America outside of Trump Tower. Stan Kroenke will now essentially own Dean Spanos and the Chargers. Meanwhile, Spanos’ team will play the next two seasons at the StubHub Center in Carson. It’s a tiny venue that can seat a maximum of 30,000. Let me repeat that just to be clear: Rather than negotiating for his own stadium in his hometown, an NFL owner is choosing to move to an area where no one wants him in order play in a stadium with a smaller capacity than Eastern Michigan’s. This plan is utterly ridiculous.
Despite the small capacity at the StubHub Center, I’d be shocked if the Chargers can sell out games by midseason. The Rams are already having issues filling their stadium, and now the Chargers will try to break into a market that can barely support one team. Some of you will say “but the Chargers couldn’t even pack their stadium in San Diego.” Well, yeah, people here refused to give Spanos more money while he consistently gave us the finger. No one was going to attend games when the team’s owner continually put a terrible product on the field and acted like a petulant child.
For people whining about attendance at Chargers games, let me ask: If you really liked the food at a local restaurant and went there for years, would you keep going if you found out the owner was sleeping with your wife? If you said “yes,” seek help.
Make no mistake, this move is purely about greed. Spanos sees Kroenke raking in cash in Los Angeles and thinks he can do the same thing. He’s in for a rude awakening.
If Spanos planned to sell the team, moving to Los Angeles would make sense. The team’s valuation will almost certainly rise when he takes it up Interstate 5. But he isn’t selling it, he’s said so publicly and privately for years. If he did, his inept sons would be out of their jobs.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Yes, the Spanos kids are as bad as their pop. John has been the team’s president of football operations since May 2015, and boy, has he done a bang-up job. The Chargers are 9-23 since he took over and he was also a key factor in the hiring of coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco. Those decisions have done serious damage to the franchise. John-Boy’s main qualification for his job as a scout and the head of football operations? His last name.
John’s older brother A.G. (who I went to high school with) is equally incompetent. He was named the team’s president of business operations in May 2015 and, like his brother, he’s done a fantastic job of demolishing a once-proud franchise. A.G. is in charge of public relations and community relations. When an NFL team is in a city where no one likes them, they might want to reconsider what they’re doing from a “relations” perspective. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what A.G. Spanos does on a daily basis because he sure isn’t doing his job. The pitch to get the city to vote for a new downtown stadium? Solid work kid, what’d that get, 43 percent? How about his work doing community outreach to help tie the team and the city together and get people to games? Yeah, that 80 percent capacity for the 2016 season was really fantastic.
Spanos and his kids are a joke. He’s easily one of the worst owners in sports and the franchise is one of the worst in the NFL. Now he’s going to run for the shelter of a city that won’t care if he’s there. The Chargers could win a division title and not make the front page in LA.
Spanos has always cried poverty when it comes to why he can’t build his own football stadium. Never mind the fact that his family is worth $2.4 billion and could easily afford its own facility if it sold off some of the 96 percent of the Chargers it currently owns. Spanos could unload up to 45 percent of his ownership stake in the team and still call the shots. But no, that would take creative thinking, maneuvering and compromising, things of which he’s utterly incapable. Now here’s the coup de grâce: Spanos will have to fork over $650 million to the NFL’s other owners just for the right to move his team to LA, but he balked at spending that much money to get his own stadium done in Mission Valley. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Dean’s father, Alex, worked hard for his money and was a true entrepreneur. After serving in the Army Air Forces in World War II, Alex took an $800 loan to buy a truck from which he sold sandwiches to migrant workers in the San Joaquin Valley. He was a millionaire within four years, invested in real estate and by 1960 founded A.G. Spanos Companies, which by 1977 became the largest apartment builder in the United States. He bought 60 percent of the Chargers from Eugene Klein for $48.3 million in 1984, realizing a lifelong dream to own a sports franchise.
What has Dean done? Well, he played golf at the University of the Pacific and was named Chargers president and CEO in 1994. That’s really about it. He has lived off his father’s legacy for decades.
Since 2008, Alex Spanos has suffered from severe dementia, leaving Dean to tend to his beloved football franchise. No one who knows anything about the younger Spanos is surprised that he proceeded to run the franchise into the ground and alienate its fans. Alex would be embarrassed by what his son has done to San Diego and the Chargers.
So here we are Dean. You are finally giving San Diego one last shot to the groin. You’re abandoning the city you’ve called home for more than 30 years, the place that has treated your family so well and been the home to your franchise for 55 years. You’re giving us one final kiss-off and bolting for a town that couldn’t care less if you’re there.
Your father served his country and built a business from nothing. You stood on his shoulders and proceeded to defecate on his legacy. Your name is now synonymous with the greatest sports owner villains of all time, in the company of Art Modell and Robert Irsay.
Here’s the thing, we don’t want you here anymore. Your greed has tarnished whatever goodwill had been built by your father. Sure, we’ll miss the Chargers players, but we won’t regret your departure for a second.
While you’re in LA fighting hours of traffic to and from your diminutive soccer stadium home, this is what my daily morning commute will look like:
Dean, you may be rich, but your presence has cheapened this city for long enough. Get out and never come back.