The LA Who? 

The LA Who?

by Gabrielle D'Ayr for SBS

Leaving the argument of where exactly L.A. will house their team and accepting the premise that a team will indeed call Los Angeles home. Who's going? There are three teams that come immediately to mind when answering the question: the San Diego Chargers; the Indianapolis Colts; and the Minnesota Vikings. In the simplest terms, none of them are happy at home. All three teams have legitimate stadium issues, so if Los Angeles get either a new stadium or a billion dollar renovation, any of the three would be happy little campers. But the issue here is not who is L.A. good for, but who is good for L.A.? If the NFL wants to capitalize on the Los Angeles market, that is.

The San Diego Chargers currently call Qualcomm Stadium home, along with the Padres and the SDSU Aztecs. It's also the home of the Holiday Bowl. Already on the old and decrepit side, it is a very well used stadium. NFL teams in general don't like to share their home with MLB teams. The seasons overlap and that's just a lot of mileage to put on a field. As it happens, the Chargers have recently asked the city to consider a proposal for a new stadium. Negotiations have been in progress for some months now and the Chargers just recently agreed to extend negotiations to May of 2004. It is difficult to project how successful this current attempt will be. In the past, attempts to pass a bond to pay for similar proposals have failed. It is a positive sign that negotiations are continuing, and perhaps the threat of losing the team to Los Angeles has inspired city officials and team administrators to find a way to work together.

Of course, none of this matters to the NFL. Would the Chargers be good for L.A.? Possibly. First of all, they're very close in proximity. Logistically, moving them would be a cinch. That same proximity also allows San Diego fans to keep their team. They are not moving so far away that games could not be attended. Moreover, many Los Angeles fans adopted the Chargers when their two teams departed unceremoniously. You have a semi-established fan base. It might be easier to sell Los Angeles on another California team. Then again, it could work exactly the other way. The Chargers showed a marked improvement during the first half of last season, which makes them a viable option. You absolutely have to give Los Angeles a team that can win. If you're not a winner in Los Angeles, you don't exist and that rather defeats the purpose of having a football team in L.A.

Me, I say no. The Chargers don't have the kind of pizzazz that Los Angeles can get behind, they belong to a rival California city, and purely nostalgically, the Chargers are one of the original AFL teams; they should stay where they belong.

So how about them Colts? Similarly, the place they call home is very old, practically unserviceable despite renovations as late as 1997, and has acquired quite a pronounced and unpleasant odor. But their fans love them. Jim Irsay has affirmed his intention to remain in Indianapolis and continue negotiations with nemesis mayor Bart Peterson to keep the Colts from leaving. Admittedly, the talks are going slowly, very slowly at the moment. The Mayor has an election to worry about and Irsay has a football season to contend with. I believe the talks will continue.

The Colts are a competitive team with a young core. This bodes well for the future longevity of the team. And that's the biggest selling point for Los Angeles. I know I've already said it, but you have to put a team that can win in L.A. I question, however, whether or not they will still be a winning team if they're pulled away from fans that love them, even if lured by a shiny new stadium. They also have some very marketable players and that is definitely something that Los Angeles can get behind.

But this doesn't work for me either. I think perhaps I'm just against putting and east coast team on the west coast, but something doesn't sit right in this scenario. Then again too, I'm still mad at the Colts for leaving Baltimore.

That brings us to the Vikings who, like the Colts have dome issues and a lot of things to offer a Los Angeles market. Throw in the fact that Red McCombs is desperate to sell the team and it seems we have a match made in heaven. The Vikings have great potential. They have Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, very marketable both. You know, they even have winning colors that L.A. already associates with: Gold and Purple Laker colors. No accident there, I'm sure we all recall that the Lakers were also originally from the land of ten thousand or so lakes. Hence the name.

The problem again here is how firmly entrenched the Vikings are up in Minnesota. I truly believe the state would collapse if you took their team away. The fan base there is reminiscent of the one in Cleveland, and look how that turned out. Perhaps a more financially sound reason for rejection is the marketing aspect. Just how do you market fierce fighting Norsemen in sunny So Cal? Well, you don't. Colors and talent aside, it kinda just doesn't work. Unless they pull a Houston Oilers, I mean Memphis Oilers, I mean Tennessee Titans deal. I see that as the only way it would work, but what a shame to break up the Lions and Vikings and Bears, and oh my those Packers!

That doesn't leave anyone to go to L.A. I mean who are our options? The Panthers? The Jaguars? I don't think either of those teams is strong enough to withstand Los Angeles. Here's my suggestion: The Saints. You've got to appreciate the delicious irony there. Just say it. See how well it rolls of your tongue? And when you first read that, didn't your eyes light up and all sorts of ideas pop into your head? They should have. The Saints are a very competitive team with a lot of winning potential. They too have marketable players in Deuce McAllister and Aaron Brooks. They have an "it". On the flip side, they're not exactly in love with the Superdome (Astroturf is so passe), although they do have considerable talent, it hasn't really clicked for them there. They don't have the fan loyalty that the Colts and Vikings have, and I don't know that New Orleans would notice if they left.

This works. I think I'd like to be there when the Saints go marching into the City of Angels.

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Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:28 am MST by Jordan Anderson

Comment I grew up in L.A., lived in San Diego for 13 years, and now I am up in the Bay Area. The team that would make the most sense in moving would be the 49ers, but that would never happen. To have a NFC down in SoCal would be great. Bringing the Rams back would also be nice if we could dream! Realistically, I think that Minnesota is the obvious choice. They seem to survive when they lose a team (Timberwolves for Lakers & Wild for North Stars). I think it would be another wake up call for the fans there. I don't think the NFL should allow the Colts to move after what Irsay did to Baltimore. My issue with the L.A. market is if it isn't the Raiders, nobody really cares. Whoever you bring in there will never get the support needed to survive in L.A. It looks like they can overcome their stadium issues this time around. Chargers belong in San Diego, because they will never get the support of the fans or the media in L.A.

Wed Sep 10, 2003 4:00 pm MST by Anonymous

Comment Greetings, I would prefer that LA bring in a new expansion team, and I'm almost certain the NFL would like this because it would mean that they would not have to fill in another city with a team. An "NFL presence" in each of the major cities translates into higher TV contracts because each city metro area has a corresponding TV rights value. Think of it this way: if the NFL had about eight fewer teams, then the next TV contract would have to be smaller because that's TV rights fee revenue it could not capture. One can't say "Well, we've got the right to get paid for the Chicago market, even though we don't have a team there drawing eyeballs and ad revenues." See? So, I would be surprised if the league allowed a move of any team other than The Raiders. Why? Because the Oakland Raiders currently exist in a two-team market, which the 49ers would love to have for themselves. I can't see the Niners threaten to move, because their current marketing and community-building strategy is to emphasize their ties to the local city. To annouce "We're moving!" would be funny, especially since they went to a lot of trouble to have their training session at Kesar Stadium, right in the heart of the Cole Valley District of SF. So, a new team is the best move. I think that team's name should be the LA Stars. Their colors? Blue, gold, white, and silver. The home uniforms could be white jerseys with blue trim and silver and gold pants and silver and gold helmets. The logo? A flying gold star with a silver lining.

Fri Sep 5, 2003 11:21 am MST by Zennie

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