Chargers to lease property in Costa Mesa for headquarters, practice facility

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers have agreed to lease office space and 3.2 nearby acres in Costa Mesa for a team headquarters and practice facility, team officials confirmed Friday.

The move, initially reported by the Orange County Register, ups the ante in the team’s drive for a new stadium — either in its home of 55 years or in the Los Angeles area.

The news comes one day after a meeting between San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos and San Diego State Elliot Hirshman on stadium issues.

The mayor’s office confirmed the meeting but declined to comment on it or the lease.

Spanos has been calling for a new facility for around 15 years to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium Mission Valley. He said he would wait until after the regular season, which ends Jan. 1, to make decisions on whether to remain in San Diego or become the second team in Los Angeles.

A Chargers spokesman confirmed that team officials agreed to lease 100,000 square feet of office space in a building near the San Diego (405) Freeway known as The Hive, and are seeking municipal permits to develop their headquarters and practice area.

The lease becomes void if Spanos decides not to move.

The move ratchets up the pressure on San Diego officials to entice Spanos to remain before Jan. 15, when an option for him to move his franchise to Los Angeles expires. The Chargers would join the Rams at a new stadium to open in 2019 in Inglewood, near Los Angeles International Airport.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said the city is “elated” that the Chargers chose “uniquely eclectic” Costa Mesa for a possible new home, touting its “wonderful neighborhoods, world-class shopping, exceptional performing arts venues and fairgrounds, the best restaurants in Southern California, and a thriving tourism industry.”

“Costa Mesa is also known for an edgy, trend-setting apparel industry, quality educational institutions, beautiful open spaces and recreational options, and it is full of friendly and creative people,” she said. “The city understands that this is a difficult and significant decision for Mr. Dean Spanos, but Costa Mesa is prepared to graciously welcome his organization and his family of employees as they make us their home for their new headquarters, practice and training facility.”

On Sunday, Spanos told a reporter that he was leaning toward moving. A few days earlier, his National Football League owner colleagues approved a plan that would help him pay a stiff relocation fee.

The actions follow the defeat last month of Measure C, which would have increased San Diego’s hotel room tax to help finance construction of a downtown stadium and meeting facility. The measure required two-thirds to pass, but didn’t even receive a simple majority.

Chargers fans have also become increasingly outnumbered at Qualcomm Stadium. By some estimates, three-quarters or more of the fans at Sunday’s game were cheering for the Oakland Raiders, the opponent that day.

Four City Council members who opposed Measure C recently sent a letter to Spanos offering him a lease of the 166-acre Qualcomm site in Mission Valley for $1 per year, which would grant him rights to stadium and ancillary development. Spanos was incensed, however, that the letter was leaked to the media before it was delivered, according to multiple reports.

It was unclear if Thursday’s meeting focused on the Mission Valley location, but SDSU is known to have an interest in the property for eventual expansion, possibly for housing and a joint research facility. If the Chargers look elsewhere for a new stadium, development on the land would include a smaller football stadium for the Aztecs.

Since Measure C was defeated, Faulconer has met or spoken with Spanos, team stadium adviser Fred Maas and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

In January, it was revealed that the Chargers submitted plans for grading and landscaping for a similar facility in Santa Ana.