12 January 2017

Can the Chargers succeed in Los Angeles?

It wasn't that long ago that there were no NFL franchises in the Southland but now after today's news, there will soon be two. One year after getting approved to move to Los Angeles and 56 years after leaving the city following their inaugural season, the San Diego Chargers are set to relocate and to become the Los Angeles Chargers for this upcoming season. To drive home the point, they even cranked out a terrible logo to note the occasion.

This move will solve their stadium issues that have dogged the franchises for years as they will share the Rams' new stadium currently being constructed, but will they be able to cultivate a fanbase?

ESPN's Seth Wickersham put this move pretty well here:
It was sad and dire and unprecedented in Roger Goodell's decade as commissioner: An owner unwillingly moving a team to a city that doesn't seem to want it, sharing a stadium with an owner, Stan Kroenke, who doesn't want to split it, witnessed and engineered by a group of owners whose sympathy only goes so far.
If you think that this move did not make much sense, you would be right. At least with the Rams a year ago, they were moving to a city in which they had much history and a city where fans of that team existed. While I cannot say this definitively, from what I've heard there just isn't that much of a contingent eagerly awaiting the Chargers in the Los Angeles area. Not only that, the Rams were able to get a year head start on planting the seed and building their fanbase so the Chargers will only have to further play catchup. And then, you have to factor in that the Chargers will be spending the interim until that Inglewood stadium is constructed playing in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium that currently houses the LA Galaxy of the MLS. Granted, the Rose Bowl was not willing to play ball with the idea of having an NFL team share the stadium with the UCLA Bruins and considering the state of the Coliseum turf late in the season, putting another team there probably wasn't a great idea either, but even then, it's a crazy small for an NFL franchise.

Owner Dean Spanos clearly feels like he ran out of options in San Diego, he even said as much in his letter to the fans. Yes, stadium negotiations went nowhere and the last stadium ballot measure went down big league, only garnering 43% in yes votes, which obviously came after the team tried to move last offseason as part of a deal with the Raiders. But Spanos didn't really appear to be willing to open up his wallet to help fund a new stadium, and he wasn't able to make anything work even after the league announced it was kicking in $300 million to the cause. Considering he has to fork up $550 million just to make this move, one stops buying the crocodile tears.

This move just reeks of a rushed and half-assed atmosphere and thus, it is going to be an uphill climb for the now-Los Angeles Chargers. We saw this past season with the Rams that fans aren't going to be particularly patient with mediocre football, and the Chargers lack the history with the city and the area that the Rams had. I do believe that football can and will work in Los Angeles but you will have a hard time convincing me that the Chargers will be more than second-fiddle here.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Ben
    I have always had a soft spot for the Chargers given their relatively local fan base. The move to LA makes no sense because the Rams have already been installed and the city is definitely not a two-team base. Then again where else could the franchise have gone? I imagine other cities had a chance to show an interest (Vegas or Portland) but chose not to... and at least the franchise stays in the geographical West instead of being 2 or 3 time zones away.

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  2. For the short term, I read that the Chargers plan on using the StubHub Center in Carson, CA as their temporary home field until this new stadium is ready in 2019. If I'm not mistaken, the home of the MLS L.A. Galaxy, only seats about 30,000 fans, which doesn't quite meet NFL standards. What's wrong with using the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as a makeshift home since the Rams are already occupying the L.A. Coliseum as their home field? That's the part of this that doesn't make much sense.

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