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Monday, July 21, 2014

The City Of Angels And Its Football Ghosts

I saw that the league was considering forcing the hand of The LA Issue by possibly pushing itself into the stadium business.  It makes some sense, since they're determined to have a franchise there.

The NFL from a business sense can do much more than any single franchise.  The problem becomes, does the NFL landlord treat that team differently than the other 31?   Does this become, to a point, a league-owned franchise?

It makes sense to have an NFL facility in the LA area, past the franchise, too. Super Bowls, for instance.  Another college bowl game. Maybe steal a Major Conference championship, like the Pac-12, steal a couple major concerts from the Hollywood Bowl.  I'm sure they'll try to force the Pro Bowl in there, if this stadium exists.

LA?  I get it.  Compared to, say, New York (whose teams play in Jersey, but hey, that West Side stadium idea was terrible; Brooklyn or Queens might've made some sense, but I'm drifting away from a point), which is a quite compact fanbase with two teams, LA is both geographically and sentimentally a massive area.  

But geographical fan-ships seem less important than in the past.  I started following Carolina because it was somewhat local, and starting around the time I truly threw my own shoulder into football a bit.  Older fans always had that Redskins/Dolphins thing, I guess, allegiances because of the same things that unwittingly force a person to choose loyalty to a brand of liquor, truck, or cigarette (or, put gently, dog whistle) because Daddy or Granddaddy did the same.   In retrospect, being a fan because you live in an area isn't much less archaic, but here I am.

Nonetheless, getting LA a team (or anywhere in Europe) is about providing a new fan something to call his/her own.  No more and no less.  But for those same reasons, it's so much easier to be a fan of something anywhere.  When I started following Carolina, the mechanations of the hows and whys of their team building came from the local newspapers. That's what you had.  Occasionally a national magazine would touch on something specific to your team or otherwise touch your interest.  For example, coinciding with Carolina's 1996 success, Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z did a series on a 1997 franchise startover that caused me to spend weeks on my own, thanks to this new nonsense called the internet.  Once I realized there was draft info on the internet, the whole thing got easier.  You could follow teams not near you, you could learn about players you'd never seen.

And that was before there was a league TV station, and a billion ESPN/Fox, and so on, regional channels.

It's easy enough now that, had it all existed in 1995, it might've been as easy to follow Buffalo.

Of course, the league's been trying to shoehorn someone into LA since the Rams and Raiders left.   Carolina even put that feeler out as bait to get Charlotte to throw some cash at them for needed renovations (truth be told, Charlotte got an NFL stadium for, up to that point, just tax breaks.  They didn't throw out any of the supposed $360 million needed for a private stadium or franchise fee, they didn't do anything else, compared to the two full stadiums they've built for the NBA), but more famously, the Jaguars and Vikings have been rumored hard.  After Ralph Wilson passed, it's been speculated hard about Buffalo.  In a few years, I'm sure, the Titans and Ravens, two teams to move since Carolina finished its stadium, will be on deck to push for new money or else.

Not coincidentally, the Vikings have gotten a new stadium, and a Super Bowl.  It follows of course, that over time the NFL would push a future Super Bowl to teams who help secure a new stadium, which of course throws Buffalo overboard.

I assumed, incorrectly at this point, that the easiest suitor was Oakland.  Al Davis was dead, and it made sense.  Hue Jackson even went off the rails and traded for USC and Fresno's own Carson Palmer.  Son Mark Davis, I guess, is the thing that'll keep that from happening.  

But, LA's lost three teams already (including the Chargers).  In an age where you can follow anyone anywhere, what does it matter?
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