The Chargers high risk gamble to move from San Diego to Los Angeles will not be successful until they have established a large enough fan base.
Ever since San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced that the team would be relocating to Los Angeles, a number of mixed reactions have filtered in from all over the spectrum. Most recently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he is “disappointed” in Spanos’ decision to move to Los Angeles. In an interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd, Goodell voiced his discontent with the relocation.
“We’re all disappointed. We all worked very hard” said Goodell “We did some unprecedented things to try and keep the Chargers in San Diego, which was our first priority.”
With all the criticism that is being thrown in the direction of the newly founded L.A Chargers, people are overlooking the most crucial question: Will relocation provide the Chargers with long-term success?
To determine this answer one has to consider the risks and rewards of moving to Los Angeles, against staying in San Diego.
The biggest draw for Spanos was the $2.6 million stadium in Inglewood which is completely funded by the Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke. This means that instead of paying more than $1 billion for a new home, Spanos will only have to cover the $550 million relocation fee.
The struggle to earn permission to build a new stadium in San Diego was what spearheaded the move to LA for Spanos. The former home of the Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium, has been ranked at the bottom of the list of NFL stadiums for years. Spanos has tried to find a new home for 16 years, but after yet another failed vote to earn public funds Spanos decided it was time to pack up and leave.
The most frequent argument posed by the media is: How can Los Angeles support two teams after the Raiders and Rams were forced to move in the 1990’s?
To make a long answer short, it’s a different situation. The Rams and Raiders both moved out of L.A because of the outdated and inconvenient L.A coliseum, which housed both NFL franchises as well as the University of Southern California Trojans. This stadium was abandoned because of the opportunity to play in better locations in Oakland and St. Louis in addition to the recession LA faced in the mid 1990’s. The new Inglewood stadium will be sure to attract potential fans rather than keep them away.
The city of Los Angeles itself has improved drastically since the mid 1990’s. LA’s population has grown by nearly 500,000 from 1990 to 2016. The greater Los Angeles area houses 18.68 million, plenty of room for fans of two teams.
The success of the Chargers, who are currently worth an estimated $2.08 billion by forbes.com, will not rely on the billion dollar stadium, or the potential success of the team. The long-term success of the Los Angeles Chargers will only come with a dedicated and passionate fan base.
For the Chargers the key to their long term success lies with the fans. Will they be able to attract and entice fans to come to football games? Can they pull fans away from an already established Los Angeles football franchise in the Rams?
These fans are the lifeblood of any NFL franchise and without a large enough fan base the Chargers will not find success in their new home of Los Angeles.