January 12, 2017

Surprising almost no one, the Chargers decide to move to LA.: There's yet to be a final announcement, but the Chargers are pretty much set to return to Los Angeles (they played their first season there before moving to San Diego) for the 2017 season, where they will join the Rams in their new stadium as lease-paying tenants in Inglewood, expected to be completed for the 2019 season. In the meantime, the Chargers are expected to play at either the Coliseum or a 27,000 seat facility in Carson, somewhat limiting their immediate ability to cash in.

posted by LionIndex to football at 10:48 AM - 7 comments

The first Rams season back in Los Angeles had some ratings and attendance woes. I am a bit skeptical that two teams can succeed there, but the San Diego fan base is close enough for some of the diehards to make the trek on a regular basis.

posted by rcade at 12:09 PM on January 12, 2017

That'll depend pretty heavily on how much of the fan base feels alienated now, and whether that feeling sticks. I don't know that the Chargers are going to have any more success in creating a fan base in LA than the Rams have, even though the Rams had a remnant of one from when they were there previously (the Chargers' previous tenure in LA was too brief and long ago to have any impact now). Alienating fans has seemed to me like it's been the Spanos family's primary goal for over a decade now, so maybe they've already hit rock bottom, but I feel like a lot of the reasons for their desire to move to LA in the first place are just fantasies that have very little chance of actually happening. They've traded a market of 3 million where there's only one other major team in town for one that splits fan attention between 12 or so franchises and major college teams, many of which play during the football season. They've basically sacrificed a home game every year whenever the Raiders come to town. I have a really hard time seeing any benefit to the move, aside from that they're now in LA and can therefore sell the team for more money.

posted by LionIndex at 12:20 PM on January 12, 2017

I would expect quite a few Chargers fans to keep their allegiance, at least for a while. A lot depends on what the local sports media does with the team being in L.A. Do they keep covering the beat and make it seem, to the TV news viewer and sports radio listener, as if they never left?

Living in Jacksonville I've shifted quite a bit of my attention from the Cowboys to the Jaguars. One thing I like about following a team is the saturation coverage. The team being talked about all the time gets in your DNA.

When I left Dallas in the 1990s I did all kinds of stuff to stay plugged in. I subscribed to a fax newsletter with daily Cowboys news, then was a regular listener of Dallas sports radio once that hit the web. My sports brain was still a resident of Dallas.

But as the years passed, I was reprogrammed by the sad sack Jaguars and all the miserable talk here about the only major sports team Jacksonville will ever get. When I drove to Dallas a few months ago, I had Apple CarPlay and Tune In Radio so I could hear sports talk from either Dallas or Jacksonville. I chose the latter.

Chargers fans could tell themselves their team is still close and might flop in L.A. and come back.

posted by rcade at 12:50 PM on January 12, 2017

I'm not sure the league and owners care about fans in the building too much any more.

I'm sure they'll say they do, as the minimum effort required to get some people through the door because it looks good in the back of the TV shots and because tickets and beer is extra gravy poured on top of a giant pile of money, but I'm pretty sure the meal tastes fine without it.

Hence mention of the team going to the 30,000 capacity StubHub for two years.

I presume having teams in LA, (and Las Vegas), allows the league to ask for much more in the TV deals when those contracts come up again. If it lets the league throw a dollar onto the per-potential-viewer fee for the LA market then the teams could play in empty stadiums and still make everyone more money.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:08 PM on January 12, 2017

Chargers fans could tell themselves their team is still close and might flop in L.A. and come back.

I think that's the most likely scenario for San Diego to ever have an NFL team again, however unlikely it may actually be, but I think the Spanos family would have to sell the team first. I can't see the NFL expanding again unless they can add 4 teams, which would dilute the talent level a lot. (You add 4 teams to get a total of 36, realign to have 6 teams in 3 divisions in each conference; playoff format remains basically the same but with 3 wild cards instead of 2)

It might be changing, but one hallmark of sports fandom in San Diego is that the city has been largely made up of transplants who bring along their own sports allegiances for a long time - people come out for military stuff and stick around afterwards or whatever. They may follow the Chargers or Padres on radio or TV but never fully transition their allegiance to the degree that they plunk down for season tickets, and with the track record of those teams, who can really blame them? Fans of visiting teams have always been a sizeable presence at any San Diego sporting event.

posted by LionIndex at 01:42 PM on January 12, 2017

I've seen many LA Galaxy games at the Stub Hub Center in Carson - an excellent venue for watching soccer. It hosts other events like some of the California high school football championship games. Even if it's short-lived, it could be an incredible (and intimate) atmosphere for an NFL game.

posted by sbacharach at 05:09 PM on January 12, 2017

This article almost perfectly encapsulates how I, and possibly quite a few other San Diegans, feel about the Chargers ownership. Every sentence feels ridiculously true.

posted by LionIndex at 11:09 AM on January 13, 2017

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