COSTA MESA, Calif. — Dean Spanos is breathing a sigh of relief.
Spanos, owner of the Los Angeles Chargers, has been criticized relentlessly for moving his team out of San Diego — into a soccer stadium, no less — and for the tepid reception the team has received in its new home 100 or so miles north.
But in sports, winning is the ultimate elixir, and the Chargers (and their new crosstown rivals, the Rams) are winning.
The Chargers went a surprising 12-4 this season, including victories in Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. They will face the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday.
The wins come at a critical time for the team, which has started selling seat licenses to would-be season-ticket holders in the new, 70,000-seat stadium the Chargers will share with the Rams beginning in 2020.
In an interview at the team’s training facility this week, Spanos said that the Chargers’ success was helping generate interest in the team, but that winning over fans in Los Angeles was a long-term project.
On the team’s decision to play temporarily in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium
“Just being able to get around the stadium, the amenities, all the game-day experience is important, and I think it’s appreciated.”
On the sale of seat licenses for season tickets in the new stadium
“We’re probably where we thought we would be, and playing well really helps. Timing is everything. It kind of jumps every time [we win]. Monday mornings are great when you win in the playoffs.”
On the decision to price seat licenses as low as $100
“We gave up a little, but enough to make it more affordable. Once we get them there, it’s more important than trying to make another 25 or 30 bucks a ticket. And that really helps you establish yourself in the market.”
On the Chargers’ commitment to the market
“There’s no doubt we’re the Los Angeles Chargers. Los Angeles is our home.”
On competing with the Rams and whether the city can support two N.F.L. teams
“This market is big enough for two teams. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have moved here.”
On fans from San Diego supporting, or not supporting, the team
“Obviously, there’s a percentage of fans who will probably never come back, and then there’s a percentage that might be apathetic, and then there’s a percentage who are Chargers fans.”
On finding a footing in the Los Angeles market
“We didn’t expect anyone to roll out the red carpet. We knew this was going to be a fight to find our niche in the marketplace, and you build on that. I understand how the San Diego fans feel, I can’t change that. At the same time, I knew coming up here it was going to take maybe a generation to build that kind of fan base. That’s not going to happen in two, three years. It’s a slow process.”
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