Monday, January 16, 2017

"Are you ready for some football?" No.

As you know, I love LA. Pretty much all things Los Angeles (except traffic and CAA) are “groovy” with me. So when I say this it is not with any glee.

But LA is not a football town. Sorry Angelinos, suck it up.

Oh yes, when USC has a good team they can fill the Coliseum. Same with UCLA (on those rare occasions when they do have a decent team). But the NFL? Yawn.

At one time we had two NFL teams. First the Raiders left (leaving drunks and the refuse of Los Angeles nowhere to riot on Sunday afternoons), then the longtime Rams. The city’s reaction: “They left? Really? Where did they go? Are you sure?” The two teams defection left the same vacuum that Fotomat going out of business did.

Decades went by without an NFL franchise in Tinsel Town. Even when the Rams were gone ten years people were saying: “They left? Really? Where did they go? Are you sure? Hey, what happened to Fotomat?”

When Baltimore lost the Colts (the sniveling owner moved them in the dead of night), the city was in mourning. Now they have the Ravens and the town is crazy for them. Same with Cleveland losing the original Browns (although my heart goes out to their fans with that current team). Imagine Philadelphia losing the Eagles. Half the city would move.

But here in LA there was a much bigger uproar when the Frederick's of Hollywood Museum of Bras closed.

Last year the Rams returned… with all the fanfare of a cheating husband slipping into bed quietly so his wife doesn’t wake up. For the first four or five months there were no billboards, no commercials, nothing. Their first few games drew well out of nostalgia, but once it was clear they were terrible the fans stopped going. I’m not sure even Rams fans knew what radio station they are on. You don’t see any Rams bumper stickers around town. No one wears Rams jerseys or helmets in the street. It wasn’t so much a triumphant return as your old Uncle Lester returning after twenty years to borrow more money.

And now comes word that the San Diego Chargers are returning to Los Angeles. Wooo hoo! This announcement has generated the same level of excitement as a new tattoo parlor opening on your corner.

Nobody in LA cares. And I feel terrible for the loyal Charger fans who lived and died with their team for 56 years. It’s like the girl you love leaving you for Gary Busey.

At a Lakers-Clippers game last week they showed the Chargers' new LA logo and the fans boo'ed.  

They’re here of course because two major television networks cover the AFC and NFC and each feels they need a team in the nation’s second largest market. Once the Rams came it was only a matter of time before some AFC franchise followed them to the Land of Milk and Money. At least it’s not the Raiders. Fans who do go to games will not have to fear for their lives.

A new stadium is being built (that both teams will share) and I imagine when that opens interest will rekindle (as long as there are enough luxury suites). But make no mistake, if it’s sunny and 80 degrees on a Sunday afternoon in November that new stadium will be half empty regardless of who’s playing. While at the same time it could be -20 in Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field will be packed to the rafters.

LA is not a football town.


Dan said...

Other than truck drivers or auto parts store employees, who would listen to football on the raido when there is TV?

VP81955 said...

But at one time Los Angeles was a pro football town, and a pretty darn good one, too. In the Rams' true glory days (the early to mid-'50s), they regularly sold out the Coliseum; some games, such as the 49ers' annual visit, drew crowds of 100,000+. LA won an NFL title in 1951 and made the championship game in 1949, '50 and '55. The Rams were the city's first pro team in a coast-to-coast league, arriving from Cleveland in 1946, and occupied a special place in Angelenos' hearts until the Dodgers joined them.

Give it time, but eventually both the Rams and Chargers will find their place in the LA culture once they deliver competitive product (and they will, eventually). The Inglewood stadium will help, as it will be state-of-the-art, a dome whose innovative roof will both shield spectators from the elements and allow sunlight in. A Super Bowl is already set for the site, the men's Final Four likely will follow suit, and other big events will be held there. It will be a major attraction in SoCal, just as the Cowboys' Arlington stadium has been a year-round benefit to the Metroplex.

I feel bad for San Diego, too, but as the Clippers have shown, being #2 in LA is far more profitable than being #1 in SD. Metro Los Angeles has two teams in the NHL, NBA and MLB (heck, soon it will have two franchises in MLS). Why not the NFL, too?

And speaking of the Eagles, they almost flew the coop in the mid-'80s. Owner Leonard Tose, whose gambling debts in Atlantic City totaled $25 million, was set to move them to Phoenix (a few years before the Cardinals actually did), but a Philly radio talk-show host got wind of the deal and publicized it before he could go through.

Stoney said...

Here in upstate New York there is still fierce loyalty to the Buffalo Bills even though they haven't seen the playoffs since 1999. Also, Buffalo gets much worse winter weather than Philadelphia!

Mike Barer said...

I'm sure very few remember the Chargers first go round in LA. They only stayed for a year.
I can't believe the Raiders wanted to move back after moving their and leaving, I guess they are on a 20 year cycle for each location. Looks like they are headed to Las Vegas.

Graham Powell said...

Now that the Clippers are good, I think that San Diego ought to get them back in trade. It's only fair.

Todd Everett said...

My local Vons (and probably yours) has a lonely rack of Rams' merchandise. One cap says "Rams"; another says "Los Angeles Rams."

I suggested to my Facebook crowd that fans buy the first one; it might still be valid in a couple years

"Georgia, Georgia..."

ChipO said...

To Dan: I enjoy radio listening with the TV volume turned off. Sometimes I even get the two synched.
Mostly because i'd rather have someone like Ken (not re football) who knows the team and has a much better grasp of the nuances than the national network announcer.

Friday question: According to your podcast, your name is Levine, rhymes with wine. I've know several Levines who pronounced their name to rhyme with bean.
Obviously both are correct. Any insight for us goyim?

ChipO said...

Oh great and wise moderator,
If LeVine is pronounced solely on the podcast to rhyme with the famous intersection and your Dad said your name rhymes with bean, please ignore that and this comment and don't let them up for the world to see my ignorance.
Thank you for your patience,

jcs said...

From what I understand many NFL owners pretty much blackmail their host city governments for subsidies in the form of partially tax-funded stadiums. I'm glad San Diego's government didn't give in. I'm a big football fan, but tax payers shouldn't fund highly profitable pro sports franchises.

purplepenquin said...

"...if it’s sunny and 80 degrees on a Sunday afternoon in November that new stadium will be half empty regardless of who’s playing."

Could end up seeing a lot of fans for the away-team in the stands. I know Packer-backers love to travel, especially that time of year.

Anonymous said...

Helped put on a half time show when the Chargers were here the first time. There were about 4,000 people in the coliseum. Most had come to see a Pop Warner game and booed everything the Chargers did.

Johnny Walker said...

Just listened to episode two. Loved it. It was interesting to hear how you sharpened your wit coming up with jokes to amuse yourself between records.

Interesting to hear the background on so many of the scripts you wrote, too. Made me want to put on To All The Girls I've Loved Before and watch it with this new knowledge.

As it went so well, weren't you interested in giving it another try?

You may not want to answer this, as so not to offend anyone, but which season of Cheers do you think was the weakest? For me I think, although there's many great episodes in it, it's probably 9. Sam seemed to lose some of his smarts. Cliff became the butt of Norm's jokes (which just made Norm seem mean). And there were a couple of episodes where the plot became very thin -- I think because that season had such a high episode order (26 or something). Must have been a huge strain on the writers.

What do my fellow commenters think?

Terrence Moss said...

Funny you say nine since the show won its fourth Emmy as Outstanding Comedy Series for that season.

"The Days of Wine and Neuroses" was a standout.

MikeK.Pa. said...

In 1984, the Eagles were thisclose to moving to Arizona. I remember Will McDonough, the late Boston Globe pro football columnist, first breaking the story. Ironically, one of his sons now works in the Cardinals front office, and another for the Suns.

A link to a story by former Philadelphia Daily News and pro football HOF sportswriter Ray Didinger is below. The irony is that the Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Arizona instead, precipitating the Rams move from LA to St. Louis. The Chargers' move to LA doesn't make sense at all. I understand their frustration at not getting a new stadium, but municipalities, for the most part, are getting tired of spending a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money for little revenue in return, all in the name of civic pride. That said, the Raiders going to Vegas seems like a match made in heaven. You can bet on it (except in LV).

blinky said...

Speaking of the Simpsons... They had their first ONE HOUR SPECIAL last night. It was a Great Gatsby themed bore fest. It had way too many plot points and way to little comedy. I am sure I could have edited the hour to a fun and more satisfying half hour. You already stated your dislike for hour specials of half hour shows so I wont ask.
And on a football note: do they not teach player what are illegal football move, in other words penalties? In 3 games the losing team make crucial penalties that lost them the game.

John Pearley Huffman said...

Here's the worst part about the return of the NFL to Los Angeles.

If you are an NFL fan, for the last couple of decades all of us in L.A. (or Santa Barbara where I live) have had nothing but choice games on TV. There's no requirement to carry the local trash team, no sell out rule that would lead to blackouts, and no fake hype constantly imploring us to care about the team. All we had on Sunday were the good games -- Green Bay vs. Seattle, Steelers vs. Ravens, Dallas vs. Giants -- without all the other crap that goes with "hosting" an NFL franchise.

The NFL puts out a great, entertaining product... usually. And we got the best of it on the tube. Now we're going to be screwed and have to watch the Rams and Chargers every week lose.

Meanwhile the Trojans are usually worth watching. The Bruins games are always a blast to attend at the gorgeous Rose Bowl, and if you really want to see some fireworks there's the high school games which play at a spectacular level in SoCal.

You may be right that L.A. doesn't really care about the NFL. But even if you care about football, the return of the NFL to L.A. is not good news.

MikeN said...

I thought the whole point of having LA with no teams was to threaten all the other cities, "Build us a stadium or we're leaving for LA!"
Good for the residents of San Diego to now spend taxpayer money on that stadium. The Chargers will find they are worse off in LA.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I'm another one who listens on the radio. Sometimes by itself, sometimes with muted tv.

One good thing about being a Lions fan - no one else wants them.

Doug said...

The Chargers might be moving to LA. Not because of the hostile reaction to the move by the market or that the LA Galaxy and the City government in Carson are pissed off about the contract for the team to play in Stub Hub until the new stadium is built. They can't seem to find a moving company to actually move them from San Diego to LA. Most of the major companies have sworn off the $100,000 or more payday and joined a boycott against doing business with Dean Spanos. On the slim chance the team can't find a company that isn't participating in the boycott; Dean and his sons might have to drive to Yuma and rent U Haul trucks to move the team themselves. (It won't happen, but the thought amuses me.) I'm a life long Chargers fan, who's lived most of my life in the LA broadcast market; so the move benefits me, even though I wanted the team to stay in San Diego. That being said, with the team staying in Southern California, I will remain a fan. I will, however, relish everything that goes wrong for Dean Spanos.

Doug said...

MikeN- The taxpayers rejected making tourists pay for a new stadium. Getting public construction and infrastructure projects off the ground in San Diego is a nightmare. Compounded by the state law requiring a super majority of voters to approve all public tax increases. If a project gets voter approval or manages to get funded without the city raising taxes or issuing bonds, there is a group of idiots who will tie up the project for years. See Petco Park and the Hotel association's plan to pay for the expansion of the convention center and pass the cost along to their customers. Petco eventually was finished, the convention center is still waiting. The city refused to appeal the last ruling against the project to the State Supreme Court, even though it had a very good chance of ruling in the project's favor. All that being said, with the salary cap and revenue sharing, all NFL teams make a tidy profit before a ticket, beer or t shirt is sold. Qualcomm Stadium needs to be replaced, for uses other than padding the Spanos bank accounts; but moving the team to LA is greed.

Doug said...

Graham Powell- I like the way you think, but the San Diego Sports Arena is an out dated dump. According to my parents it was a dump when it was new. The NBA will never allow a team in San Diego without a replacement. Not that the Sports Arena had anything to do with the Clippers moving to LA. They moved because Donald Sterling wanted his team closer to his office in LA. The team had good attendance and was making money. The Rockets, however did move because of the Sports Arena. The owner informed the city that he was loosing too much money and needed a new arena to turn a profit.(I don't know what differences were in the two teams economics.) He also told them that he had looked and could not find a buyer who would keep the team in San Diego. (He refused to move the team himself. He was a native and lived in the city his whole life.) The city told him to go jump in the bay, and after another search for a white night to keep the team in San Diego, he sold the Rockets to a group of investors who promptly moved the team to Houston.

J Lee said...

No matter how much Walmart money goes into Stan Kroenke's new stadium, in a two-team town in any sport, one team is always going to be the poor stepchild, loved only in the rare moments when its a winner, ignored and/or disdained at all other moments. Since both the Rams and Chargers are awful right now, and both have past L.A. connections (though the Chargers' one requires fans to be at least in their mid-60s to remember it), which team ends up the favored one will probably be determined by which team actually manages to become title competitive and starts filling up the new stadium first. The other team's then likely to become the West Coast version of the Jets.

Johnny Walker said...

Yeah, as I say, it still had many great episodes in it.

Alan said...

Excuse me while I open a Bud. Stand can now fill his stadium that the taxpayers paid for but make nothing on. We here in St. Louis will be just fine without the lambs. Don't hold your breath waiting for a winning team to use the home locker room. We won't.

Did the rams really draw a smaller TV audience than the day they were up against a Cardinals playoff game?

Mike Barer said...

First ever Super Bowl was played in LA Colosseum. the Fans were strategic placed so that the stadium would look full. At that time, it was more of an exhibition game or something. Kind of an experiment. The NFL was thought to be clearly superior to what was then the AFL.

netminder said...

This guy is an idiot. Everwhere i wore my rams jersey i got prople giving me thumps up. The Rams were with 7th in attendance in the nfl with 74,000 avg. In st louis when did they have one game at with 74,000 people. He doesn't get out much.

MikeN said...

What is the point of moving companies boycotting? Are they worried about losing business? Their potential customers are leaving the city!

Doug said...

It's a FU to Spanos from San Diego area movers who are more concerned with their community than making a buck from the Chargers. Why, other than solidarity LA area movers are joining in, I don't know; but it's funny.

ScarletNumber said...

I agree that UCLA doesn't fill the Coliseum, but that is because they have played in the Rose Bowl since 1982.