Source: Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP)—An attorney for the San Diego Chargers denied a report by a Toronto radio station that billionaire Philip Anschutz will buy 35 percent of Southern California’s only NFL team.
The report Tuesday immediately elevated speculation that the Chargers could be headed to Los Angeles. Sports and entertainment powerhouse Anschutz Entertainment Group has proposed building an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, but it is only at the conceptual stage.
The Chargers recently announced that owner Alex Spanos is looking to sell a minority stake to help with estate planning. The 87-year-old Spanos, a billionaire developer who lives in Stockton, revealed two years ago that he suffers from dementia.
“There is no truth to the rumor out of Toronto that the Chargers have agreed to sell a portion of the team to Mr. Anschutz,” Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani said in a statement late Tuesday night.
The Fan 590 reported Tuesday that Anschutz “has or will purchase” 35 percent of the Chargers.
AEG officials weren’t available for comment.
“At this moment, no sale of the minority interest in the team is imminent,” Fabiani said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “And if a sale is made, it would be made public and the new owner would be required to go through the NFL approval process.”
The Chargers have long been rumored as a possible tenant if a new stadium is built in Los Angeles. The team began play in 1960 as the Los Angeles Chargers of the AFL. After attracting small crowds at the Coliseum, it moved to San Diego prior to the 1961 season.
The Chargers have been trying to get a new stadium built in San Diego County since 2002.
The team is currently exploring options to build a $750 million stadium on a downtown parcel east of Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. That site has been described as the last, best chance for the team to build a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley. The Chargers could eventually seek hundreds of millions of dollars in public assistance.
Spanos and his wife, Faye, own 36 percent of the team. Their four children each own 15 percent. Dean Spanos is the team’s president. Two minority owners own the other 4 percent. Fabiani has said the Spanos family will continue to hold a controlling majority stake.
Between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each year through 2020, the Chargers can announce their intentions to leave if they pay off the bonds used to expand Qualcomm in 1997. That figure is currently around $26 million.