SAN DIEGO – The Chargers will move to Los Angeles beginning with the 2017 NFL season, owner Dean Spanos confirmed in a letter posted to the team's website Thursday.
"After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles," Spanos wrote. "Today we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers."
Spanos said that San Diego, the team's home for the last 56 years "will always be part of our identity," but immediately after posting the letter, the team also changed their Twitter account to "Los Angeles Chargers."
The Chargers said their temporary home will be the StubHub Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson. The stadium there has a capacity of 30,000 seats.
Spanos noted the Chargers' inaugural season in 1960 was played in Los Angeles and while the team had fans there since, the Chargers have "a tremendous amount of work to do" to earn the respect and support of Los Angeles football fans.
"We must get back to winning," Spanos said. "And, we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community. The Chargers are determined to fight for LA and we are excited to get started."
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer did not have an immediate response to the announcement, but earlier Thursday he told FOX 5 that the Chargers had not contacted him about a move. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, however, immediately issued a written welcome to the team:
"Los Angeles is one of the world’s great sports towns. Championship teams and iconic athletes aren’t just memories here — they are legends woven into the fabric of our history. Today, we welcome an important part of that history back with the Chargers returning to Los Angeles.
“L.A. already has more visitors than ever before. The Chargers will make our NFL tradition even richer, and give sports fans everywhere one more reason to be in Los Angeles. I congratulate Dean Spanos and the entire Chargers organization, and look forward to the extraordinary contributions they will make to our entire region.”
Speculation that the team would leave San Diego has been widespread since voters rejected a November ballot measure to use hotel room taxes to help build a new downtown stadium for the team. After the ballot defeat, Spanos refused to talk about the team's future, saying he wanted to focus on the remainder of the 2016 football season.
Just a year ago, Chargers fans were convulsed by a similar announcement when the team said it planned to move to Carson in Los Angeles County. The Chargers proposed building a joint stadium there with the Raiders, but the NFL shot down that plan, forcing the team to play their 2016 season in San Diego. As late as last February, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that keeping the Chargers in San Diego was a priority.
The Chargers also launched a new website and campaign called "Fight for LA." They said the campaign is meant to show the team's commitment to Los Angeles football fans. Fans who are interested can make a refundable $100 deposit to reserve 2017 Chargers season tickets at StubHub Center.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring L.A. a Super Bowl championship,” said John Spanos, president of football operations for the team. “When we say we will fight for L.A., this is the essence of our pledge."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that the Chargers worked tirelessly with local officials on a ballot initiative that fell short on election day.
"I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego," Goodell said in a statement.