Two NFL teams in LA is a bad idea

Written by :
Published on : January 14, 2017

 

 

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.

LA chargers logo math

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.

 

the-bus-in-la-425

 

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.

 

Rams-Family-Day

 

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.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: A Day at the Coliseum

Written by :
Published on : August 30, 2015

 

Late August is the perfect time to see a baseball game. Growing up outside Chicago, one of my favorite childhood traditions was the yearly baseball game I attended with my Grandfather. Always the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Always sometime in August. I guess that’s why I think it’s the best time to go. I guess that’s also why I’ve decided, while on vacation in Oakland, to go see a baseball game. The Oakland A’s versus the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. (I’m also visiting from LA, but my blood doesn’t run blue.)

 

Seen from the BART train, the Oakland Coliseum is an imposing structure. A walkway covered by chain-link stretches from the station to the stadium. It’s here I begin to see all the familiar faces from baseball games’ past. There are the Scalpers, offering seats from the corner of their mouths. Then the Capitalists, selling A’s hats and “Straight Outta Raider Nation” t-shirts.

 

oakland as - walk up copy2

 

There’s a long line at the ticket booth, so I purchase my seat on my iPhone. Waiting at the metal detector, I watch an Old Married Couple get waved through. The elderly always seem to be the most prepared at the ballpark; they’re packing sunscreen, binoculars, a bag of peanuts, radio, newspaper and seat cushions. You can’t take it with you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring it to an A’s game.

 

I buy a ten dollar beer and find my seat at the end of the left field foul line. My section is dominated by kids- a group of nearly thirty, being wrangled by three impossibly patient adults. Most are wearing A’s gear. There’s one kid who wears Coke Bottle Glasses, like the kid from “The Sandlot.” As the game starts, the kids start cheering. Oakland scores at the bottom of the first. One of the women patiently asks Coke Bottles to keep it down.

 

oakland as - 2nd seat view

 

One thing I am certain about: no matter where you sit at a game, there’s always an Opposing Team Fan sitting nearby. And they’re not going to let you forget it. A group of three Dodgers Fans start yelling, “Let’s go Dodgers!”

The kids fire back, “Let’s go Oakland!”

“Let’s go Dodgers!”

“LET’S GO OAKLAND!”

The Dodger Fans give up, but the kids cheer on. The Dodger Fans get up at the end of the 1st inning and never return.

 

During the 2nd inning, I finish my first beer. There is nothing healthy or clean about food at a baseball game. There’s a woman sitting nearby who looks like Christina Hendricks hiding behind sunglasses. She has a box with a Chicago-style deep dish pizza inside. She eats a slice, scooping up tomatoes and cheese with her fingers. I am in love. I go buy pizza at the concession stand.

 

Dodgers take the lead during the top of the 3rd. Behind me, one of the kids asks his friend, “Do you have any money? I’m looking for the cotton candy man.”

 

This has to be the guy they are talking about

 

4th inning. I find a better (shaded) seat. I feel surrounded by die hard fans in this new section. There’s a guy with a Walkman (!) on listening to the radio broadcast while he watches the game. On the aisle, a mother daughter team of Scorekeepers, each recording the game on their paper scorecard. I wonder what they do with those cards after the game.

 

One of my all-time favorite things happens next: the Jumbotron Race. Every sporting event includes at least one electronic race broadcast on the big screen. Three opponents, thirty seconds (or whatever) to glory. It’s the exact shot of adrenaline we need at this point, and they serve it up hot!

 

Oakland retakes the lead during the 6th. The Scorekeepers are pleased. I can hear the kids from my new seat.

 

7th Inning Stretch. The crowd begins to sing; I am ecstatic. The highlight of every Cubs game was leaving my seat to try and get a view of the legendary Harry Caray, leading the entire crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” He would lean out of the booth and wave his arm like a conductor, and we would shout and join the mass of voices broadcast over WGN radio.

 

Harry Caray at Wrigley Field

 

8th inning. On the field, I see a foul ball bounce against the seating wall. An A’s player picks it up. Several grown men jump to their feet, desperate for a souvenir. The player finally tosses the ball to a kid sitting with the adults. The men all sit back down, disappointed as kids.

 

At this point, the Earlybirds that are looking to “beat the traffic” have started to their march towards the exits. My Grandfather was one of these. I never minded leaving early, until one year we listened to a last-second Cubs comeback in the taxi cab outside Union Station. Every year after that, I always voted to wait it out and catch a later train back home.

 

The A’s widen their lead at the bottom of the 8th, and I decide that’s enough for me. Goodbye Coliseum, thanks for everything. (P.S. send the Raiders back to LA if you’re not doing anything with them.)

 

 


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