When you look closely at NFL moves, people usually only pay attention to one side of the show.
For instance the Oakland move. In this move, most of the reports are focused on how happy the Las Vegas side is for getting a team, and of course, we in this area are. I for one, can’t wait until the Raiders play the 49ers in a game. Being a 49ers fan means I won’t have to travel to Arizona as much if I can catch at least one game in Las Vegas.
But what about the other fans who are being left in the lurch. How do they feel?
In a recent story on Chargers fans and how they were taking the move of their team from San Diego to Los Angeles, they showed photos of fans dumping their San Diego gear in a large pile at the San Diego stadium. That answered my question.
I was in the Oakland area when the Raiders moved the first time to Los Angeles in 1982 and got to see firsthand what happens to an area when the team leaves. Many of the sports bars that catered to Oakland Raider fans around town shut down or barely stayed open after the team left. So I am sure this will happen again. Knowing Oakland fans, they probably will be dumping Oakland gear too and more than likely starting bonfires.
This is why moving a team is so closely scrutinized.
But then I am not sure why the Chargers are even bothering to move to Los Angeles when the Rams are already there.
Maybe they are counting on the Rams being terrible, for that is the only light I can see in that fickle LA market. The Raiders were only in LA until 1994.
So really, what are the Chargers thinking?
According to a sports fan who lives in San Diego, Steve Celniker, he feels the Chargers don’t care about the fans, but only the money.
“The Chargers’ departure was based on the one and only thing that the ownership really cared about, which was the asset valuation of the franchise,” he said. “By that, I mean how much the team was worth. Stuff like the performance of the team, loyalty of the San Diego fans, receptiveness of Los Angeles fans, and the NFL’s interest in retaining the San Diego market were all non-factors. The ownership knew exactly what the team would be worth in LA in a high-revenue (i.e. luxury boxes and personal seat licenses) scenario, and all other scenarios were measured against that.”
But will the money be there for them in LA? The LA market is so fickle that fans will need a lot of coaxing to get them to attend games.
Celniker believes the Spanos family, owners of the Chargers, ran out of options in San Diego.
“Because the Spanos family is not billionaire-wealthy apart from the franchise value, they didn’t have the wealth to self-fund a high-revenue stadium in either San Diego or LA,” Celniker said.
He said the bottom line was that the Spanos family wanted to keep all their interest in the team and not have to sell any part of the team to get a new stadium. And maybe that was all that was important to them.
“Meanwhile, a series of keep-the-team-in-SD proposals were only partly publicly subsidized with a big share expected from Spanos, which they also did not want to do,” Celniker said. “This is why the Charger stadium saga dragged on for 15 years without resolution.”
The end finally came when the Chargers lost their ballot initiative to get a taxpayer-funded stadium and many feel that the team has only one option left, which is to be the Rams partner-tenant in LA. Hence the move.
To me, that’s two losers in one stadium deal, but I am biased against the Rams, for I admit I have not liked that team since it moved away from LA to St. Louis. I can’t wait to see how this move pans out for Spanos. San Diego doesn’t paint him as a likable guy, but then again, how many owners are?
Vern Hee is the sports editor of the Pahrump Valley Times