SAN DIEGO — Canadian Orlando Franklin is stunned the San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angles.
On Thursday, team chairman Dean Spanos announced the Chargers will relocate to L.A. next season after 56 years in San Diego. Spanos' announcement comes less than three months after voters rejected a team-sponsored measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a $1.8 billion downtown stadium.
The Chargers will become a tenant in the stadium being built in Inglewood, Calif., for the Rams. Before then, they'll play at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in suburban Carson.
"I know I was shocked," Franklin told reporters Thursday. "I definitely thought we were going to stay here."
The six-foot-six, 315-pound Franklin completed his second season with the Chargers. The 29-year-old native of Kingston, Jamaica, who grew up in Toronto, signed a five-year, US$36.5-million deal as a free agent in March 2015 after spending four years with the Denver Broncos.
Franklin's contract included an $8-million signing bonus and $16.5 million guaranteed. He purchased a home in San Diego just last year but now faces having to pull up stakes.
"It's unfortunate to learn that we're moving but I welcome new beginnings at the end of the day because that's what is going to happen," Franklin said. "At least we know exactly what's going on . . . we can plan with our families and get the ball rolling on that."
Predictably, many Chargers fans reacted negatively to the news with some burning team flags and assorted memorabilia. Franklin said he understood their angst.
"They have a right to be angry, they've been here for the last 55 years, anyone would be angry," he said. "You're talking about moving the team and a lot of people aren't going to be able to make those games.
"It's not going to be that easy so they have a lot of reason to be angry but I do understand what Dean and John did here. As a player, I play for them, so I'm going to go wherever I'm told to go." "