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It’s been three years since the Chargers left San Diego for the Los Angeles lights. Poor home support in the NFL’s smallest stadium, mixed with failure to realize their post-season potential, prevented the Chargers from making friends with the locals. A few months before moving into the brand new SoFi stadium with the Rams, I look at the problems they faced.
Moving to Los Angeles
The Chargers moved from San Diego, their home since 1961, to Los Angeles in 2017 after the city of San Diego refused to fund a new stadium with an expected hotel tax increase. Owner Dean Spanos wanted a new stadium to house the Chargers but didn’t want to pay for it himself and apparently had little problem leaving San Diego when it became clear that this was the only way for a new stadium to be built. materialize. A rental agreement with the Rams (who had also decided to move to Los Angeles from St Louis) for a brand new stadium in Inglewood Los Angeles was concluded and the relocation was confirmed.
This decision caused problems from the start. The Rams had played in LA from 1946 to 1994, which means they would have a more established fan base while the Chargers last played in LA in the 1960 season. The Rams’ existing relationship meant that the fans were more likely to follow them than the Chargers, and without immediate success they would always catch up.
Problems and popularity of stadiums
The Chargers played their home games at Dignity Health Sports Park about 16 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The 27,000-seat stadium, home to LA Galaxy from MLS, is primarily used for football and is by far the smallest in the NFL – the second on the list was the Raiders RingCentral Coliseum with more than double its capacity .
Not having an adequate stadium to enter immediately was a huge handicap for the Chargers; fewer fans equals less support. Surprisingly, however, it was not the biggest problem they faced – while local supporters stayed away, opposition supporters took the opportunity to take control of the stadium. There are many occasions, often against the Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos and the Steelers, where it has been difficult to spot a Chargers jersey in the crowd! In week 15 of the 2017 season, the Chargers used a silent tally for their game against the Vikings at home due to the noise made by the number of Vikings fans who made the trip to LA. To top it all off, in a 2019 home game against the Steelers in week 6, the stadium even played Styx’s song “Renegade” on 4e quarter, a hymn often heard in Steelers’ home games. Melvin Gordon was recorded in the Los Angeles Times by stating “It was crazy, they started playing their theme music. I don’t know what we were doing – this little soundtrack, what they are doing on their home games. I don’t know why we played this. “
– Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) May 26, 2020
A question is often asked: Did Los Angeles really want an NFL team? The interest has never been particularly strong, the Rams and the Raiders have already existed and disappeared, and it seemed that LA was doing very well without one. So in a city that hosts sports superstars like LeBron James, Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout and now Aaron Donald, the Chargers would have always struggled to win a popularity contest. This has never been more evident than in the results of the annual Los Angeles Public Opinion Survey, conducted by Loyola Marymount University in early 2020, which showed that the Chargers were the NINTH most popular sports team. County People’s Party.
As expected, the Lakers and the Dodgers, with more than 30% of the vote each, make up the top 2, followed by the Rams, Clippers and Angels. But they were also behind the Los Angeles football teams (LAFC and Galaxy) and the Kings, with the Chargers staggering 1.6% just ahead of the women’s basketball team, the Sparks.
It is also inevitable that they will also be less popular than UCLA and USC. In some ways, this should come as no surprise. The year after they moved to Los Angeles, another LMU poll asked Los Angeles residents to name their favorite NFL team. According to reports, the Chargers have completed 4e behind the Rams, the Raiders and “any team is fine.” Quite simply, LA doesn’t need the NFL, let alone the Chargers.
What does the future hold?
Will the Chargers ever be accepted in Los Angeles? You have to somehow feel that the only way for this to happen is that they improve the Rams and win a Superbowl – there would be no better time to do it than in 2022, when SoFi Stadium is hosting.
LA loves success and it would be a sure way to increase their popularity. It’s easier said than done. The Chargers’ best opportunities for a deep run after the season have been in the last few seasons under Rivers, and now they’re in a state of flux. Only time will tell if Herbert will become the franchise quarterback they need, which will most likely mean a few seasons of reconstruction and consolidation.
Man the new CHARGERS Stadium is coming up really cool 😍 pic.twitter.com/JSjwBvoEJm
– ً (@KeenanMVP) May 15, 2020
A short-term fix could be a return to San Diego, but it is largely a non-runner with Spanos still at the helm. This either leaves its mark in Los Angeles or moves away from the west coast. There has recently been talk of moving to the UK to become the London Chargers, and although they can play in the fantastic state-of-the-art Tottenham Stadium, the same issues that haunt them in Los Angeles are likely to follow in London. Fans will flock to the matches, but mainly to visit the stadium or to watch their opponents.
So what can Chargers fans expect? Well for starters, their new jerseys are by far the best in the league, and they will be playing in the new SoFi stadium, which will translate into more attendance as the stadium will be a big draw.
The NFL wanted a team in LA more than LA wanted a team, let alone two, and it looks like they are now stuck with each other.