NFL is seeing LA experiment struggling earlyBy Matt Verderame
The National Football League has been hellbent on getting teams into big markets since the Great Depression. Recently, that trend continued with the Rams moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, while the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A. in January.
So far, things are not going according to plan.
The Rams are currently in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, waiting for their new palace in Inglewood to open up. The Chargers will also be moving into the venue, something that was supposed to be completed by the time the 2019 NFL season began.
Instead, word came down on Thursday morning that because of unusual amounts of rain in the area, the construction timetable has been pushed back. Now, the Rams and Chargers will be playing an extra year in their temporary venues. For the Rams, that means another year in an ancient stadium. For the Chargers, it means playing in front of a capacity crowd of 27,000 for at least two seasons. Not ideal. Per ESPN, Rams COO Kevin Demoff is preaching patience on the matter.
“Stan’s vision is unique,” Demoff said, citing Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who visualized and funded the project. “I think it’s an unbelievable responsibility for all of us who work on this project to make sure we deliver that for him, for the fans, for Angelenos, for the NFL, and for the world when you talk about an event like the 2024 Olympics. It’s much more important to get it right than to make sure you hit a certain date.”
This, on top of some already looming issues. The Rams were supposed to be returning to the place they once called home as conquering heroes. Instead, the team went 5-11 and played some of the ugliest football in the league. To the shock of nobody, the fans stayed away in droves despite it being a homecoming.
The Chargers, who were originally the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 before moving to San Diego the following season, have little fan base to speak of both in their old and new city. Getting the StubHub Center sold out shouldn’t be a problem, but putting off the new stadium hurts any momentum being built by the club.
While optimism will remain the buzzword of the day coming out of NFL headquarters, this hurts. Commissioner Roger Goodell had to be hoping for a better start to the L.A. experiment (part II). Instead, the NFL has watched as the fans were turned off by bad football, and then got a franchise with little tie to the city instead of the Raiders, who went to Las Vegas instead.
It’s early in the game, but the NFL has fallen behind in the Los Angeles game.