Much like the Star Wars movies, our recent RealSport Roundtables have come in threes, all of them concerning the move of a franchise to Los Angeles. In that regard, consider this instalment The Return of the Jedi/The Revenge of the Sith of the franchise, where we examine whether or not the San Diego Chargers should hop across California to move to LA. If you want to read what our writers made of the other franchises cases, you can view the Oakland Raiders episode here, and the St. Louis Rams episode here. Now, enough with the tenuous Star Wars links, and let’s awaken the force that is the Chargers’ potential relocation!
The Chargers deserve the fresh start
by Remy Cabache
Ever since the NFL left the City of Angels, there has been talks to bring it back. In the last few years, those talks have been gaining serious momentum, to the point that it seems impossible that there won’t be a team there in 2016. So why should the Chargers make the move?
First things first, their stadium situation is not great. Qualcomm Stadium opened in 1967 – as the San Diego Stadium – and has been the Chargers home field since then. In that time, only two major renovations have taken place, in 1984 and 1997. The stadium is reportedly showing signs of age and there are several places in the stadium where views are obstructed. Though the San Diego City Council are making an effort to fix Qualcomm or build a new stadium, the plans are not as attractive as the potential LA relocation.
The next problem is the fans. There have been many situations at Chargers home games that you would assume the Chargers were the away team. Not only because there was a lack of Chargers fans, but because there seemed to be more fans of the opposing teams. Most notably, last season on Sunday Night Football against the New England Patriots, Pats fans took over Qualcomm. On Monday Night Football this season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Terrible Towels and Yellow and Gold seemed to dominate the stadium. All of this tells you that fans would prefer to be sat at home or in a bar, than at the stadium. That type of fan base can’t sustain a team.
Finally, as far as ‘Football Markets’ go, LA is far more attractive than San Diego. Not only does LA offer more than double the inhabitants, but it is the entertainment capital of the world. If you want to be in the public eye, go to LA. Furthermore, two of the biggest NCAA teams are in LA: UCLA and USC. They have incredibly loyal fan bases, and great stadiums. These fans would likely offer more to the Chargers than the fans currently do in San Diego. Los Angeles deserves a team, they’ve already had the Rams and Raiders, so why not give the Chargers this opportunity? The Chargers need to change something.
San Diego and the Chargers are made for each other, don’t change that
by Nathan Hards
This is a pretty easy call to make, and I’ll try to keep this short. You can’t claim history. The Chargers have no claim of legacy to a city that they played in for exactly one year. They moved to San Diego and stuck it out from there on in, staying in the Qualcomm Stadium pretty much the entire residency. The Chargers are San Diego, and San Diego are the Chargers.
Let’s take a look back at the teams that moved to LA, and why they moved: Rams – spent a substantial amount of time there, longest of any team. Why did they leave? Attendance issues. They couldn’t fill the stadium anymore, because the fanbase was haemorrhaging due to some bad seasons. Raiders – Spent a good ten years in LA, having been convinced of the opportunities there. Pushed the Rams out, and took their fanbase. Then they started losing, and the fanbase dwindled, resulting in them moving back to Oakland. Now we’re looking at pushing the Chargers in there, because of a lack of attendance? Sounds familiar to me.
LA is offering a fancy new stadium, as long as they share it with the Raiders, which I will get to in a minute. So the old stadium is starting to look a little worn, and LA are building a brand new one. Let’s take a look at the levels of risk: LA want to pull in two teams that are guaranteed to promote business. That’s two for the price of one, and a spike in visitors. San Diego are promising to upgrade the whole existing stadium for a team that has already expressed a desire to leave, citing low attendance at games. San Diego is literally rolling the dice on this offer, whereas LA will be happy even if they only get one team. That would be the Raiders. If the Chargers are the only team able to take the move, LA will almost definitely drop the offer, or try and force the NFL to get the Raiders to move. Then how would the Chargers feel?
Now we get to the attendance and fanbase concerns. LA is bigger, and has a higher population density. Let’s take a look at the figures. The #1 team in San Diego is obviously the Chargers. The Raiders are #2. What about LA, as it stands? Raiders, and Rams fans – with Chargers third place. So, which Raiders fans will become Chargers fans? What about those legacy Rams fans, desperately holding onto that hope of a return, any chance of them coming across? Be honest, you’re moving further away from your fans, to an area that doesn’t and probably won’t support you, and you’ll have to stay there for another ten years before you can go home. So, it’s a possible move that could result in no fans, no attendance, and possibly even no stadium. Seems like a no brainer, and a non-starter, to me.