“Chargers Crisis—Players & Cash Flow”
Dean Spanos, Team Spanos, the Chargers, have a problem, a real problem now.
A problem worse than the hatred left behind when they dismissed 55-years of fan loyalty to execute the money grab to move to Los Angeles.
A bigger problem than the two years of media criticism, and the embarrassment of seeing all their home games overwhelmed by fans of the visiting team, who bought out all the tickets.
Despite the quality play of QB-Philip Rivers, the astute drafting of GM-Tom Telesco, and the fiery leadership of incoming coach Anthony Lynn, they still have a problem.
And this time, it is serious.
So they had to move to Los Angeles, where they hoped they would win, and garner a corner of the fan support up there. The market that loves the Lakers, is now enamored by the Clippers, has a World Series Dodgers team, and still supports the Bruins and Trojans.
They hoped too, to increase their revenues streams by going into the 2nd biggest market in the NFL.
Everyone in the NFL makes money thanks to the mega-TV deal from all the television partners. Some teams make lots more, because they win, or they play in a huge stadium, or have a heritage following.
Each team last year got 221M-as part of the TV pie-revenue sharing in the NFL. But the additional bonanza comes from Sky Box Revenues, Club Seats, PSLs, pricey tickets, merchandising and more.
None of that is part of the makeup of Chargers football now. Spanos’ net worth, according to the Forbes Magazine survey of owners, was 1.2B last season. A far cry from Stan Kroenke of the Rams (12.6B) or Robert Kraft of New England (9B) or Jerry Jones in Dallas (8B).
Of course owning your own Stadium, which Kroenke will do, and Kraft and Jones already have, is a big difference maker.
No one cares about that if you are a fan of the team. All they care about are wins and losses and how deep you go into the NFL playoffs.
The Chargers haven’t done that much, just two playoff wins in the last 11-years with Rivers at the helm. They surely don’t do that when it comes to tabulating revenue streams, considering they averaged 25,000-fans a game in their futbol-football stadium they play in in Carson.
And now they have issues, with the impending holdout of running back Melvin Gordon. Philip Rivers may be the straw that stirs the drink for the Bolts, but Gordon’s rushing and pass catching abilities are the meat and potatoes that sets up everything Rivers can do.
Gordon has a year left on his contract, due to make (5.6M) this coming season. He says he’s not coming to camp, and won’t play in the regular season, without an extension. He’s not going to risk getting hurt this year without the guarantee of an extension. He wants a state of the art salary, a lucrative bonus, and guarantees for a group of years going forward.
He’s not going put up huge numbers, while earning half of what Ezekiel Elliott gets in Dallas, or taking home just a third of what Le’Veon Bell will get from the New York Jets.
Gordon’s demands are simple. He wants 14M a year, quite a pay hike from his current salary this season.
Todd Gurley of the Rams will make (14.3M)-bad knee and all. Bell, who held out all last year, will earn (13.1M) in New York. David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals gets (13M) this coming fall.
Gordon has been enormously productive with the Chargers.
He does everything, but he has also been banged up, four different injuries in the lat four years. The stats are impressive (3,628Y) rushing….(1,577) in receptions….that’s (5,205) all purpose yards and 38TDs in 4-years.
Bell, who walked away from the Steelers, after sitting out last season, piled up (4,045Y) rushing…(2,0005Y) receiving…a combined (6,050Y) and 31TDs in his first 4-years in Pittsburgh
But the Team Spanos problem is more than just the running back. The quarterback is also part of the equation.
Rivers is in the final year of his contract too, and has indicated ‘no more discounts’ in what will be his final deal. No one expects Rivers to ask the absurd money Minnesota shelled out for QB-Kirk Cousins (32M) a year average. But there will be a hefty increase for the Bolts passing star.
Can you say (24M) per year for Rivers? Add Gordon’s demand (14M) per year, and that’s a huge hike in this salary cap era. Throw in signing bonus money of possibly 20M upfront, and you wonder how Dean Spanos is going to pull this off.
His revenues are not what they were in San Diego. His potential to rake in bigger money a year from now seem limited, in that he is going into Kroenke’s stadium financed with the Rams’ owners money.
And there is the impending bill to the NFL League office. Spanos has to start paying (129M) in territorial fees to the NFL this coming season, for the next four years, for the move into the Los Angeles market, just two years ago.
Team Spanos has always had holdout issues with players, and granted you cannot always give the individual player what the agents always demand.
But you cannot play ‘hardball-lowball’ with your top two offensive players, whose contracts are both coming up.
Where is cash poor Spanos going to get the money?
There’s a big difference in the amount of revenues you generate, when you average 65,000 fans a game in San Diego, as they did in the good years, compared to the 25,550 they are getting in their soccer stadium in Carson
Big difference too in the corporate advertising revenue they used to get at the cement edifice that was Quallcom, compared to what they can sell in the LA Galaxy soccer stadium. And ditto for what they can charge for sky boxes and club seats.
Odd as I put pencil to paper to look at the economic of the Chargers. I thought of their ownership money issues, Spanos had to borrow money, a reported 650M, to finance the move to LA, and build new training facilities. Hell, if he had borrowed that money he could have helped finance a new Stadium in San Diego.
And then I thought of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s comments, the day Spanos left San Diego.
“Dean Spanos will regret the decision he made’. Two years later it appears he really might, if he cannot pay his star players, to play in a market that still doesn’t love his franchise.
Could you imagine what Chargers football without Melvin Gordon for a full season would be like? Could you imagine life without Philip Rivers if he ever got hurt this coming season?
Could you imagine the trauma the Bolts would have on their hands?
Could you imagine the joy, still enraged San Diego fans would experience?
The Chargers have a crisis straight ahead, with players and with cash flow don’t you think?
Spanos could have been revered in San Diego. Instead, he is reviled, by the decision he made.
And a final thought about all this.
Would have never happened if they were still the San Diego Chargers.