Not much about the San Diego Chargers’ move to Los Angeles makes sense, and that’s before you get to the Chargers’ home stadium plans for the next two seasons.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos officially announced the move Thursday morning. According to USA Today and Pro Football Talk, the Chargers plan to play at the StubHub Center in Carson in 2017 and 2018, before moving into Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s lavish Inglewood stadium in 2019. The StubHub Center is home to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, and it has a capacity of 27,167.
Yes, an NFL team will reportedly spend two seasons in a soccer stadium that barely seats more than an NBA arena.
The smallest stadium in the NFL this season, in terms of capacity, was the Oakland Raiders’ Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Its capacity for Raiders games was about 54,000, twice as large as the Chargers’ reported home the next two seasons. The StubHub Center is smaller than the smallest Major League Baseball Stadium as well. This apparently will be the Chargers’ home for two seasons.
Assuming the NFL is OK with the Chargers’ plan, the stadium will be unlike anything we’ve seen in the NFL since well before the Super Bowl started. Perhaps the most recent comparable situation was when the Chicago Bears played in Wrigley Field, something they haven’t done since 1970. And Wrigley Field still held more than 40,000 at the end of its Bears run.
Perhaps a small stadium is best for the Chargers because the move to Los Angeles seems to be a debacle waiting to happen. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke welcomed the Chargers with a scathing column on Thursday that included him saying, “We. Don’t. Want. You.”
The Rams didn’t exactly get a hero’s welcome in their first season after moving from St. Louis, and it’s hard to imagine a second team will do better. The Chargers can’t assume that San Diego fans will drive up to Los Angeles to watch a team that left them. There’s not a huge contingent of Chargers fans in L.A. Casual fans have no more reason to watch the Chargers than they did the Rams, and they didn’t seem too enamored with the Rams.
Spanos has to pay a $650 million relocation fee, will lose money in ticket sales playing in a soccer stadium for two seasons, has to deal with the expenses of selling his team … tell me again why he wouldn’t have been better off just paying for a new stadium in San Diego after taxpayers said no? He would have been a hero in San Diego. Now he and his team will be nobodies in Los Angeles.
Maybe playing in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium was based more on strategy than desperation. They might not have been able to fill anything bigger.
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