Spanos, who built a billion-dollar fortune in real estate and construction, purchased 60 percent of the then-San Diego Chargers from majority owner Eugene Klein for $70 million in 1984. Spanos bought out the shares of several minority owners and owned 97 percent of the team.
He also served on many NFL committees, including the Expansion and Realignment Committee in 1991.
“Alex was the embodiment of the American dream and leaves behind a legacy of passion and hard work,” the team said in a statement. “Born the son of Greek immigrants in 1923, Alex’s tireless work ethic and fearlessness was instilled in him when at only eight years old, he began working in his father’s bakery before and after school. A tough upbringing coupled with the unshakeable belief that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to drove him to succeed and overcome countless obstacles.”
The team Spanos bought reached the Super Bowl after the 1994 season. He ran the club as a family business for decades and relocated the Chargers to Los Angeles in 2017 under the management of his son, Dean Spanos.
A.G. Spanos and John Spanos, Alex’s grandsons, run the team on a day-to-day basis, with the former overseeing business and the latter presiding over football operations.
“Fiercely loyal, competitive, passionate and loving — that was Alex Spanos,” the team characterized the longtime owner. “As Alex would say, ‘Believe in yourself. There is nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it.'”
Spanos’ wife, Faye, died in August at age 92. The couple had four children — Dean, Dea Spanos Berberian, Alexis Spanos Ruhl and Michael — along with 15 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
“Our hearts go out to the Spanos family and all of our colleagues at the Chargers on the passing of Alex Spanos,” Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said. “A truly self-made success, Alex Spanos is the embodiment of the American Dream and represents all that is good about the National Football League. We join all of those who were fortunate enough to know Mr. Spanos in mourning his loss.”
New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson also expressed her feelings upon hearing the news.
“On behalf of the New Orleans Saints, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the Spanos family and the entire Los Angeles Chargers organization with the passing of Alex Spanos,” Benson said in a statement.
“Much like my husband Tom, who passed away in March, Alex’s tireless work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to charity led to great success. Both he and Tom entered the National Football League as owners around the same time and both made significant contributions to the growth of the league with their integrity, leadership and business expertise.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the next few days, the team said.