There are plenty of die-hard football fans in Southern California (that are not in San Diego) who would be happy to have an NFL team back in Los Angeles, a city that’s been without a team since both the Raiders and the Rams packed up and left town in 1994. But just as many of those die-hards (or at least the ones I know), when asked how necessary a team is to the city, say a couple of things:
- “God, like traffic needs to be any worse for eight Sundays a year.”
- “It’s nice having some semblance of decent games on without an expansion team to have to deal with.”
- “They’re going to stick us with a bill for the stadium.”
In fact, it seems the only carping for a team to return to L.A. comes from the league itself and many of the local politicians, who seem to have better things to do. City councilman (and former lousy police chief) Bernard Parks is a big old advocate for using the L.A. Memorial Coliseum because he wants that money and the jobs for renovating it to help his district. Now, Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times is telling the Coliseum to give it up as a viable NFL team’s home — cut a deal with USC and get to the renovation already; the NFL has already said no to using the old stadium.
Problem is, no one’s gonna buy into a new stadium if the city gives in to the NFL and any prospective owner’s desire to have the public cough up for another monstrosity. Frankly, there’s other places that money needs to be going as far as public infrastructure goes. The city and its residents know better: so many people keep moving to L.A. with their own team loyalties, carried over and extended thanks to the Internet, cable, and Sunday Ticket, and there’s too many teams already in town to cough up half a week’s pay stub on. Why sacrifice the extra tax money and hitch a wagon to an expansion team, especially when the league probably doesn’t need to get any bigger right now? Particularly if it’s the one proposed out in the City of Industry, which isn’t near any sort of public transit? Please insert your favorite Angels nomenclature joke here; the Los Angeles something of Industry would be a running gag if that happened. What’s that you say? AEG had a proposal to build a park in downtown, near Staples? Sorry, Parks and the other politicos were too enamored of the Coliseum.
L.A. has been used by every belligerent owner as a threat for a better stadium deal at home — please see Tom Benson prior to Hurricane Katrina, and he didn’t dare consider it due to the absolute outcry post-storm — then the Saints’ resurgence in ’06 killed it. Lifting the Chargers out of San Diego isn’t likely and luring Al Davis back isn’t going to happen, no matter how nasty McAfee Coliseum gets (even after the Athletics leave.)
The NFL fans dying for a team in L.A. to call their own better hope Ralph Wilson kicks the bucket and some ownership group round there wins the bidding — but I’d say it’s safe that a fair enough amount of those die-hard, Angeleno native fans will be fine putting their Raiders and Chargers jerseys on every Sunday if that’s not the case.
More often than not you will find some columnist either rambling in print or on T.V. that L.A. isn’t a town of true sports fans or isn’t a true sports city because it doesn’t have an NFL team. Not true — most L.A. football fans are just a bit smarter about being taken for a boondoggle, despite the best efforts of the local pols.