The so-called “Fight for LA” is a hot topic around the NFL. The Rams and Chargers are both battling for the attention (and dollars) of an area that hasn’t been a ‘football town’ in 22 years. The city is now dominated by pop culture, the Lakers, and whatever trend is going on at the time. Now the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, seems to think that the city would have been better off with just the Rams moving to town. The Rams are in their second season back in the City of Angels, after a stint in St. Louis. The Chargers are in their first season in LA, leaving San Diego to the surprise of much of their fanbase.
From the Rams Point of View
–Andrew Kelly, Managing Editor, cover32.com/Rams
When the NFL expressed interest in moving a team to Los Angeles, the Rams were the obvious choice. The team spent 48 seasons in LA before moving to St. Louis and seemed destined for a return to their fanbase. However, the team is currently in a rebuilding phase after a tough first season back under Jeff Fisher. New coach Sean McVay seems to have the team moving the right direction and the Rams certainly have important pieces in place, but will it be enough for the team to draw a large enough crowd to fill the legendary LA Coliseum?
The Rams drew around 57,000 people to their game on Sunday, almost 30,000 less than USC attracted in the same stadium just the night before. Attendance has been a consistent issue for the Rams since their return, struggling to draw a large crowd. With such vibrant pop culture scene in the city, the Rams need to demonstrate that they are going to be a successful product on the field that will be worth people’s hard earned money, as well as their time.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is also building a new stadium (scheduled to open in 2020) which is going to be a football palace. The stadium will be unlike anything seen before in the sports world, and will also be the epicenter of the 2028 Olympic Games. Without a doubt, Kroenke’s stadium alone will have appeal in the beginning, but the Rams must fill that stadium with good football and wins in order to keep the fans coming back.
From the Chargers Point of View
–Mike D’Abate, Managing Editor, cover32.com/Chargers
For a city that clamored for the return of NFL football for so many years, the return of not one, but two teams to the area has been met with a lukewarm description. And, that’s putting it delicately.
In terms of attendance, the Chargers (25,381) and Rams (56,612) actually finished behind USC over the weekend. The Trojans’ Saturday night game against Texas drew more fans (84,714) than the Chargers and Rams did combined. It seems that southern California is sending a message to the Spanos family regarding moving the team away from its long time home in San Diego. Candidly, that message is a collective ‘told ya,so.’
It is true that the Chargers’ opener was a rocky beginning in L.A. Not only did they lose, but the stadium was half full of fans who were cheering for the other team. In fact, Bolts running back, Melvin Gordon, was overheard speculating that the stand were about 50 percent filled with Fabs of the visiting Miami Dolphins.
While many have interpreted Mayor Garcetti’s comments as a rejection of the Chargers arrival in the City of Angels, they were much more positive than that. The Chargers actually have the Mayor’s support, even if he was originally less than enthusiastic about their arrival. Garcetti’s main point is that he just wants to teams to stop alienating fans and to stay put in one place. For the foreseeable future, that place is Los Angeles.
In fact, he recently had this to say about the Chargers:
“I’m glad that the Chargers will build up a fan base, and it really is Southern California. I believe in players playing for a long time on teams, and teams staying in a city for their lives. That’s really what makes it great growing up. You can root for the people and the teams without wondering if it’s just going to be all about business, and where somebody could make a few hundred million dollars more.”
In the final analysis, the Chargers best way to endear themselves to their new L.A. fan base is to win an actual game. The team is 0-2 following Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Dolphins. The Chargers have little to create the buzz necessary to ‘fight for L.A.” Both losses have happened due to a missed field goal in the final nine seconds of the game. That certainly has not helped to win new fans in Los Angeles, or win back those from San Diego.
But here’s the bottom line…The heart of the Chargers may forever be in San Diego, but their hat now hangs in Carson, California. The rooting interest is up for grabs. It’s up to the Chargers to go out there and take it.
At the end of the day Los Angeles is one city with two teams. Even the mayor of the the city is not convinced that this is the best system, but neither team seems to be going anywhere soon. If both teams can make it work, these moves will be one of the biggest success stories in NFL history. However, is it likely that only one team will truly be able to thrive in the market. Regardless of whether or not each team wants to accept the presence of the “Fight for LA”, it certainly exists. The solution seems to be simple, one team will win their way to the hearts of the fanbase. Without a doubt, the road to that goal will be much more difficult.