San Diego is being portrayed as having lost a football team—when in fact, it just won the opportunity to build an even brighter future.

Pro football isn’t a good business for a major American city. Having a team mostly just takes money from other entertainment businesses. And dramas over stadiums and stadium financing – and San Diego has been having such a drama for the past two decades – are draining, in money and attention. The money is that devoted to reports and lawsuits and special elections. The attention that goes to football takes away from media attention and time that could be better spent on other problems.

Without the Chargers, San Diego is immediately better off—which is why those who opposed the various Charger stadium schemes did their city a favor. San Diego is better off not just because the city is freed up to think about other things, or because the goofy Spanos family has left town. San Diego may finally get an expanded or new convention center that isn’t encumbered by the politics of the Chargers. City leaders will have more time to devote to improving a fairly lousy infrastructure and to creating more affordable housing.

The sports picture will be brighter. More money should flow into other sports, entertainment and cultural options. The Padres ought to have more money, and thus be better able to compete with the Giants and the Dodgers. San Diego State sports should grow in audience, better connecting the rest of the city to a very important university. And even pro football fans will be better off—TV networks will show them the best games in the country, instead of the frustrating-to-watch Chargers.

When you look at the strongest and fastest-growing cities in the country, you don’t see a lot of pro football. San Francisco lost the 49ers to Santa Clara without missing a beat (Santa Clara, however has all kinds of problems and conflict as a result). And no place has been growing faster than Austin, Texas, with no major sports teams.

Indeed, San Diego should focus even more on strengthening its education and knowledge economy. Try to turn San Diego State into a full Cal Poly campus. Make more exchanges with the growing higher education institutions in Mexico. Find more space for UC San Diego to grow beyond its La Jolla flagship.

Congratulations, San Diego. The Chargers never won a Super Bowl. And now that they’re gone, you have an even better chance to be champions.