The San Diego Chargers are about to be swept into the dustbin of history.
According to Dean Spanos, Chairman of the soon to be re-christened Los Angeles Chargers, the American football team will call StubHub Center, a stadium on the campus of the California State University at Dominguez Hill in Carson, California, home until a permanent venue is either built or found.
The team has already adopted a new logo, a stylized thunderbolt version of the initials L.A. in a bid to win the hearts of Angelinos.
Will football fans in the City of Angels embrace the new logo? And what about the fans in San Diego? How will they feel about it?
If the Chargers had any hopes of maintaining the allegiance of their fans in San Diego, that new logo was the marketing faux pas of the century.
The fact that the new logo was revealed on the same day that the announcement of the team’s departure was made only added serious insult to serious injury.
It was not only callous, it was cruel. It was also incredibly stupid.
The team could have softened the blow by trying to reposition itself as representing all of Southern California.
“We’re only moving 90 miles north because we couldn’t get a stadium deal done in San Diego, but we’re still your team.,” they could have said.
Instead they have alienated the long-suffering fans in San Diego, whose team has never been much of a success on the field except for their first few seasons as charter members of the American Football League in the early 1960s.
Sense of Betrayal
The Chargers have shown their true colours, and they’re not blue and gold.
As an Oakland Raiders fan from the get-go, I remember the sense of betrayal I felt when I learned that the team I grew up with had left my home town for the nation’s second largest television market.
So I could only feel empathy for the fans I saw on television discarding their jerseys and other memorabilia outside the soon to be abandoned headquarters of the San Diego Chargers.
“I’m heartbroke more than anything,” a fan said when interviewed by a sports reporter on TV.
“I’m just tore up. They’re our team. Fifty-five years in the making. Just tear our hearts out. Not cool.”
No community should have to suffer the indignity of losing its team. But if financial considerations make it inevitable, do it with class.
Don’t rub their noses in it.
And that is exactly what they Chargers have done.
It had long been my dream to attend a game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, where Raider fans have long outdrawn fans rooting for the home side.
That’s one dream that will never be fulfilled.
And so a city that had been without football for two decades within two seasons finds itself home to two football teams.
The Rams returned to Los Angeles at the beginning of the current NFL season following 20 years in St. Louis.
And the Chargers are returning next season to the city they represented for the inaugural season of the AFL before relocating to San Diego more than half a century ago.
Which begs the question: how will the Chargers be received in Los Angeles? It’s not even clear if the Rams can be a success there.
Can Los Angeles Support Two NFL Teams?
Are there enough football fans in Los Angeles to support two football teams?
Common sense would dictate that before you would add a second football team to a market, you would make sure that it could support one football team.
That has yet to be proven. The Rams were not exactly welcomed home with open arms.
Why not give them a chance to rebuilt their fan base before adding a competitive team to the mix?
We might have been rival football fans of rival football teams, but I can take no joy in San Diego’s loss of its team.
“For more than a decade, the San Diego Chargers have worked diligently toward finding a local stadium solution, which all sides agreed was required,”said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“These efforts took on added intensity in the last two years. A year ago, NFL owners granted the Chargers an option to move to Los Angeles. Rather than immediately exercising that option, the team spent the past year continuing to work on finding a stadium solution in San Diego.”
What If the Raiders Move to Las Vegas?
If a Chargers move to La La Town is a done deal, could a Raiders move to Sin City be far behind?
That would complicate matters yet further. There is already a massive Raider fan base in Greater Los Angeles.
I am sure that many SoCal football fans – especially those living in the Inland Empire – would be tempted to attend games in Las Vegas should a Raiders move to the city be approved.
That would lead to yet more cannibalization of a market that has yet to prove its ability to support one football team, let alone three.
That is something I don’t want to contemplate. But if they move from Oakland, don’t count on my support.
All a Football Fan Really Wants
I want to support a football team that plays football. I will support that team loyally through thick and thin, regardless of its win-loss record.
I will support it through loosing seasons. I will wear my team’s colours proudly.
I will be ecstatic when my team wins, and heartbroken when it loses.
But there is one thing I will NOT do. I will not support a football team that plays musical chairs.
I am sick of the way football teams pit cities against one another, making ever greater demands for ever for ever more grandiose facilities, when most of us simply want moderately comfortable seats, yummy food, cheap beer, and a good view of the action on the field.
Loyalty goes both ways. If teams expect loyalty from their fans, they should also be loyal to their fans.