It’s time to face the facts. The Chargers are probably moving to Los Angeles barring a last minute Christmas miracle — well or an early January miracle. Once the stadium funding deal was voted down — and it only garnered 43 percent of the vote — the Chargers weren’t left with many options. The Spanos’ aren’t as wealthy as Stan Kroenke is. They can’t just build a one-plus billion dollar stadium with their personal wealth. It’s not a great business decision, especially when other cities are throwing around millions of dollars and there’s a perfectly fine stadium three hours north. L.A. is a big enough market to handle two teams, but here are some business challenges the move may create.
1. Two teams, one town, two fan bases
Right now Los Angeles is a one town team. The Rams have exclusive access to the fanbase through its first mover advantage and tradition. The problem is — if the Chargers move next year — they only had one year to take advantage of it. It’s hard enough convincing transplants to switch allegiances, now there will be a another team in the market.
The Chargers face their own challenges. The Rams have been here and have a connection to the city. The Chargers may be able to convince some fans from Orange County and North San Diego county to follow them north, but they lack any history with Los Angeles. The good news for the Chargers is they look prime to be more successful on the field in the short term. Los Angeles loves winners.
2. Stadium logistics are going to be a challenge
The NFL knows how to schedule a single stadium for two teams. It has experience with the Jets and Giants. But — and this is a huge but — the NFL hasn’t had to worry about a college football team and two NFL teams sharing a stadium for a long time. It’s been done before, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult.
Right now the only real NFL ready stadium looking to hold NFL games is the Coliseum. The Rose Bowl bowed out early in the process for hosting the Rams, and they probably aren’t changing their mind any time soon. That leaves the StubHub Center in Carson — which would be an amazingly cool atmosphere but is too small for an NFL team — and the Coliseum.
The field already gets ripped up from any consecutive Saturday/Sunday weekends where USC and the Rams play at home. Now imagine no days off for a pretty old venue going through its own refurbishment. It’s not the worst situation, but it’s definitely not ideal.
3. Two teams in different divisions split up the TV market
There is going to be overlap. At some point the Rams and the Chargers will have to play at the same time. This means the second largest TV market will be split. Some people will turn into AFC fans, and others will turn into NFC fans. It’s not the best situation for Fox or CBS.
Trust me the NFL would rather have the entirety of the LA market watching one specific game and one specific conference. It makes big games have better numbers. The Rams and Cowboys could do gangbuster ratings, but if there’s a few million people being pulled away because the Chargers are playing the Jaguars it’s less than ideal. Again, New York does it, but the NFL just moved back into L.A. It’s trying to re-engage local fans. Two teams just splits the market.
4. Big brother little brother could create issues
As someone who spent a large portion of their adult life in New York City and following as an ubiased observer, the big brother little brother issue is real. It’s not just with the fans, it’s with the businesses and the ownership.
This may not happen in Los Angeles, but in New York there was a constant sense of competition. The Post sports section let you know about it. Two teams compete for sponsors, PSLs, season tickets. The owners of these teams are competitive people on the field and off the field.
This doesn’t mean the owners don’t like each other at all, but it’s easy to see where resentment can pop up. Again, they are competitive. Some times friendly competitions create problems. The last thing the NFL needs is owners being less than happy moving into a CBA. If you don’t think feelings can get hurt, take a quick read of the relocation story again.