(Reuters) - San Diego’s beach city life, with its warm temperatures and thin air, has always been the perfect landing spot for the Chargers and their pass-happy offenses but that marriage is on the verge of a possible breakup after 54 years.
The Chargers will learn if they are completing a much-anticipated relocation to Los Angeles later this week, at some point during two days of National Football League team owners’ meetings in Houston.
San Diego, along with the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, have applied for a move to the City of Angels but unlike the other two teams, who both previously played in that city, the Chargers have carved out an identity in their current home.
They landed in San Diego in 1961, and joined the National Football League as a result of the American Football Conference-NFL merger in 1970.
In the years that have followed, the Chargers franchise has produced some of the more memorable characters in the league’s history.
Quarterback Dan Fouts was among the most prolific passers of the 1970s and 80s and his Hall of Fame career left an indelible impression on the team’s offensive identity over the years.
The Chargers lineage can be traced from Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow to linebacker great Junior Seau, who tragically committed suicide in 2012.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is second all-time in NFL career rushing touchdowns and joined forces with current Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who slings passes and on-field instructions with equal velocity.
Despite just one Super Bowl berth — a loss to the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 1994-95 season — the Chargers have long been a factor in the AFC West where they have accumulated 10 NFL division titles.
But that longevity has led to expiration on the Chargers aging home venue — Qualcomm Stadium. The team has played there since 1967, and the outdated facility has been the prime source of their proposed relocation.
According to the Chargers, the franchise has exhausted possibilities for a new stadium deal in San Diego.
As a part of their relocation application, they released documents that claim they have spent more than $20 million over the last 14 years on nine separate proposals for a new San Diego home.
The latest bid to keep the team would require a public vote and public funding.
In lieu of their plans to head to Los Angeles, the Chargers partnered with the Raiders on a project to build a stadium in Carson, California where both teams could play.
On the field, the Chargers are coming off their worst season in more than a decade, having compiled a 4-12 record during an injury-hit campaign.
However, the Chargers reached a recent contract extension with head coach Mike McCoy and have reason to be optimistic.
Unlike the Raiders and Rams, who have the worst fan attendance averages in the NFL, the Chargers have just one home fan base that spans decades.
Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes