Dean Spanos
Source: Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers Owner Dean Spanos Facing Fan Criticism and Family Friction

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Sep. 23 2021, Published 1:55 p.m. ET

More than four years after moving the Los Angeles Chargers from San Diego to L.A., NFL owner Dean Spanos is still catching flak. A new San Diego Union-Tribune column suggests that ex-Chargers fans—particularly all of you who feel like “Dean Spanos kicked your shins”—can root for the San Francisco 49ers instead. And in Aug. 2021, the Times of San Diego cited sports insiders who said that the Chargers could have kept their San Diego fans if they had relocated to Las Vegas instead of Los Angeles.

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“Spanos made a huge mistake not going to Vegas, probably because he didn’t have the spine to be a pioneer,” sports columnist Nick Canepa explained to the Times of San Diego. 10News sportscaster Ben Higgins, meanwhile, told the newspaper that the 2017 move was “a big miscalculation” by Higgins. “He felt he would keep his fan base in San Diego,” he said. “The move to Los Angeles alienated more San Diego fans than a move to Las Vegas would have done.” Meanwhile, Spanos is also facing strife with his family.

Who owns the L.A. Chargers?

Dean Spanos, Stan Kroenke, and James T. Butts Jr.
Source: Getty Images

Spanos with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. at the SoFi Stadium ribbon-cutting event on Sept. 8, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif.

Dean Spanos is the controlling owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Chargers, having inherited the team from his father, Alex Spanos, who purchased a controlling stake of the Chargers in 1984. Alex handed daily operations of the Chargers to Dean in 1994, according to the Union-Tribune.

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What is Dean Spanos’s net worth?

According to a GOBankingRate ranking of the 25 richest NFL owners—updated on Sep. 16, 2021—Spano has a net worth of $1 billion. And believe it or not, that fortune puts Spanos at the bottom of the list, tied with the family of William Clay Ford (owners of the Detroit Lions), the Glazer family (owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and the trust of Pat Bowlen (which holds the Denver Broncos). At the top of the list, meanwhile, is Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and his $12 billion net worth.

Who else has an ownership stake in the team?

Dean Spanos and two of his siblings want to keep the Chargers in the family. Another sibling has different ideas. In Apr. 2021, Dean’s sister Dea Spanos Berberian petitioned the Los Angeles County Superior Court to put the family trust’s ownership stake in the team up for sale, reported the Associated Press.

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According to the Associated Press, Spanos and Berberian each have 15 percent of the franchise, as do their siblings, Alexandra Spanos Ruhl and Michael Spanos. The family trust manages a 36-percent stake, and non-family members own the other 4 percent. But Berberian’s petition said that the family trust had debts and expenses of $353 million as of Sep. 30, 2020—with nearly half of that coming from its Chargers investment—and that the franchise was costing the trust a yearly loss of at least $11 million.

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Is Dean Spanos selling the Chargers?

In response to Berberian’s petition, the other three siblings released a statement in which they avowed their desire to keep the team in the Spanos family. “Our parents, Alex and Faye, wanted the Chargers to be part of the Spanos Family for generations to come,” the three siblings wrote. “For the three of us, the Chargers is one of our family’s most important legacies, just as it was for our parents.”

They went on: “Unfortunately, our sister Dea seems to have a different and misguided personal agenda. If Dea no longer wishes to be part of this family legacy, the three of us stand ready to purchase her share of the franchise, as our agreements give us the right to do.”

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