The solution to the NFL’s Los Angeles problem is the Arizona Chargers
LOS ANGELES, August 12, 2015 — It has been over 20 years since Los Angeles has had a football team. As a result, and transpants not included, Los Angeles consists primarily of leftover Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams fans who have stayed true to teams that clearly did not stay true to them. Then there are the smaller faction of fans who have opted to root for the closest team, geographically speaking, which is the San Diego Chargers.
With all three of these teams looking to move to Los Angeles and there only being space for two teams, at best, the NFL is going to have to make some big decisions, and at least one team will not be happy. Or will it just be a fan base left holding the bag?
The Oakland Raiders do not want to be in Oakland, a city that does not seem to care whether the Raiders stay or leave and certainly will not be providing the team with a new stadium. The Raiders have a core fan base already in place in Los Angeles. If they can get a stadium in Los Angeles, they should be a no-brainer to get the NFL’s approval to move south.
The St. Louis Rams also have a built-in fan base, plus an owner who owns in land in Inglewood, next to the Forum where the Lakers used to play and is ready to build a stadium with his own funds. That is rare, as most new stadiums require cities to vote on a tax to help fund the stadium. This would lead one to think the Rams, like the Raiders, would be a no-brainer to move west.
The problem for the Rams, however, is that St. Louis is the only one of the cities willing to use public funds to build a new stadium. Again, this is rare, as many cities right now are not wanting to use any public funds to build new stadiums. Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, depending on who you ask, being three such cities.
The city of San Diego says their polling shows the people would vote for a tax to build a new stadium, but the Chargers say their own polling shows the exact opposite to be true. And even if they do vote for it, the Chargers say those plans would take too long to implement. The Chargers have a small fan base in place in Los Angeles and their fans from San Diego will likely travel north to Los Angeles for games. The Chargers and Raiders have a partnership in place to build a stadium together in Carson, but that project is not as far along in the development process as the Inglewood project and is still not a sure thing. The Rams’ deal in Inglewood is a sure thing.
It is quite the predicament, but the decision of which teams play in Los Angeles is the easiest part of the decision. Here is what the NFL should do.
Have Rams owner Stan Kroenke build a stadium in Inglewood that both the Raiders and the Rams will share. Diehard fans in Oakland will travel, just as the diehards in Los Angeles have traveled north for every Raider home game. That is the easy part of the solution. There is still the problem of St. Louis being willing to build a stadium to house an NFL team. Yes, this would be considered a first world problem.
The solution to St. Louis is to do what the NFL did in Los Angeles (in this fictional scenario). The NFL returned the Rams and the Raiders to Los Angeles, so they should return the Cardinals to St. Louis where actual cardinals fly and can be seen in the trees. This part of the solution creates a new problem, unfortunately. Arizona now has no team and a stadium that is still somewhat new.
Don’t worry, Arizona, the NFL has you covered. Say, “Hello,” to the Arizona Chargers. This is where feelings get hurt. San Diego has now been stripped of its team. Some fans will likely become Rams or Raiders fans, and others will make the journey east on the 8 freeway to see their beloved Chargers.
The NFL sacrifices one fan base to restore football in Los Angeles, and revitalize football in two other cities, Phoenix and St. Louis. This leaves almost everyone happy.