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NFL Could Charge Heafty Fee for LA Relocation

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Aired 12/2/10

San Diego is buzzing again about the possibility of the Chargers relocating to Los Angeles. The speculation was spurred by a report, which the Chargers deny, that an LA entrepreneur Phil Anschutz was set to buy 35 percent of the team.

— San Diego is buzzing again about the possibility of the Chargers relocating to Los Angeles. The speculation was spurred by a report, which the Chargers deny, that an LA entrepreneur Phil Anschutz was set to buy 35 percent of the team.

Anschutz owns Los Angeles-based AEG, which is overseeing development of a new downtown entertainment district in Los Angeles. The company already owns a stake in the city's basketball, hockey and soccer teams and is shopping for a football team to occupy a stadium proposed as part of the development. Tuesday night it looked like the Chargers could become that tenant when a rumor started that AEG was buying a stake in the team.

But, it would take more than a Los Angeles-based buyer to send the team packing, according to sports economist Andrew Zimbalist.

“Whatever team moves there is going to have to pay a very handsome ransom to the NFL," said Zimbalist. "The NFL basically treats any market that currently is not occupied as a market that they own.”

Zimbalist explained the NFL exacts their relocation fee based on how much a team’s value increases by moving to a new market. The Union-Tribune recently reported that the Los Angeles Chargers could be worth about $400 million more than a San Diego team.

Even if a move is not imminent, the team may not let all speculation about a potential sale of shares to AEG completely die out.

“If they can convince people in San Diego they’re about to lose their football team because L.A.’s right down the road then it’s more likely that people in the area will help chip in to build them a new stadium," said Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. "This ploy is as old as pro sports.”

Mayor Jerry Sanders released a statement Wednesday evening reassuring fans that the city is still working with the team to evaluate sites for a new stadium right here in downtown San Diego.

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