Last Thursday, Dean Spanos, owner of the Chargers, announced that the team will be moving to Los Angeles next year. After failing to coax the people of San Diego into funding a new stadium, Spanos decided to turn his back on the city and move up north. The move will cost him $650 million in relocation and other fees, and even though he probably would have only had to pay a nominal amount more to build the stadium in San Diego, he proved that loyalty means nothing and money is everything. Saving a little bit of money apparently means so much to him that he even cut corners on the team’s new logo and had a hideous amalgamation of the Tampa Bay Lightening and LA Dodgers logos.
The NFL is like a little kid who eats candy to the point of being sick. A year after moving one mediocre team, the Rams, to Los Angeles, the league has decided to move the Chargers to the city of angels. As if having one team that no one wants to see in the city isn’t enough. The fact that the league wants this to happen just shows that they have reached a dangerous level of arrogance with regards to their standing among sports fans. If it works out, then it’s great for the city of Los Angeles and for the sport of football but it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Here are a few reason why.
We’ve been down this road before
Last time there was professional football in Los Angeles, there were two teams. And it didn’t work then either. Why does the NFL think that it will work this time? At least the Rams actually feel like LA’s team. The Chargers are very much San Diego’s team. Maybe if it had been the Raiders it could have worked with two. I mean, everyone in LA is a Raiders fan. But the Chargers? I challenge you to go to a public place in the Los Angeles area and find me 20 Chargers fans.
After surviving all these years with zero NFL teams, I don’t know what makes the league think that it can generate enough interest in two teams to make this whole thing seem viable. It didn’t work last time with two teams that this city truly loves. It won’t work this time with one team that the city is maybe learning to love again and one team with zero fans north of Orange County.
These teams aren’t very good
By now you probably have an idea for how highly I think of these two football teams. Last season they were both so bad their head coaches got fired. The Rams and Chargers went a combined 9-23 on the season and never even sniffed the idea of going to the playoffs. Now they are looking at a complete systematic rebuild. Nothing grows a fan base like a couple years of rebuilding under a new coaching regime. Acclimating to a new system really gets the fans fired up!
The Rams will play at the Coliseum until the new stadium is ready. That place is huge (capacity of 93,000) and for the better part of last season the place was pretty much empty. The Chargers will play at the pretty small StubHub Center. That place only seats 30,000 and I find it hard to imagine they will fill that spot. The new stadium that the two teams will share should be open in time for the 2019 season. If fans in the city are lucky, one of these two teams will be watchable by that time.
No one cares
I mentioned earlier that Los Angeles somehow managed to survive for two decades without a professional football team. The reason is a fact that might not be very well known outside of southern California. No one in Los Angeles really cares if there is a team here or not. Sure, there were a few old school die hard Rams fans that were excited to see their team return, and if the Raiders had come back there would surely be armies of black and silver maniacs foaming at the mouth over the prospect, but a good chunk of people in this town are from somewhere else. And they could care less about the Rams or Chargers.
Honestly, people love the Lakers and Dodgers in this town the most. But when they’re bad they are less than an afterthought. And sure, the Kings have been pretty popular in these recent years of Stanley Cup contention, but its more of a novelty than anything. With so much happening out here, it’s just not really a huge sports town and definitely not enough of one to be able to support 6 pro franchises (7 if you count the Angels). While people certainly thought it was ridiculous that there was no pro football team here for 20 years, most everyone I talk to seems more surprised that there are about to be two. People just don’t care enough.
This move is motivated by nothing more than money. The Rams are Los Angeles’ team. The Chargers are a foreign team that no one in the city wants or needs. Dean Spanos should be ashamed for turning his back on the people of San Diego and I hope that this comes back to bite him. I envision many empty seats at Chargers games for years to come and probably another move within the next couple of decades. But I don’t think he and his team will be welcome back to San Diego.