By Brian Klose
In a move stalled by years of push-back and complications, the National Football League finally approved the relocation of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles, one year after LA acquired the Rams from St. Louis. The decision came with serious backlash from San Diego fans saying goodbye to their team of 56 years, heightened by the even more serious apathy from LA residents. The move only further complicates the state of LA sports culture, which is currently in both a slump and an identity crisis.
With the addition of the Chargers during the NFL postseason, LA now has a total of ten professional sports organizations. This kind of oversaturation has led to a lengthy period of sporting irrelevance. Since 2010, only three teams have won championships: the Kings (LA’s professional hockey team), the Galaxy (LA’s professional soccer team), and the Sparks (LA’s professional womens basketball team.)
The Lakers, arguably the city’s most iconic team, has gone through over five years of disappointment, and, with the retirement of Kobe Bryant last season, has become one of the NBA’s least competitive teams. With the rise of the Clippers, the city’s second NBA team, there is still hope to keep LA on the map as a basketball city, but the addition of two NFL teams in two years leads us to suspect the city is hoping to become a football Mecca.
In its first season in LA, the Rams gave the city little to cheer for, finishing the season 4-12, firing its head coach mid-season, and relying on a rookie quarterback with poor results.The Rams have since hired Sean McVay, the NFL’s youngest-ever head coach at 31 years old, a move that has potential to breath life into the young team. The allure of a rookie head coach at least promises unpredictable results, a perfect quality for a city reeling for an exciting team.
The Chargers enterted the LA sports scene to mixed results and even lower expectations than the Rams. The move from San Diego, while unwanted, shocked very few in the football community. Still, loyal San Diego fans voiced their outrage, burning jerseys and other team merchandise.
Following the offical announcement, the Chargers started the LA era on an unexpectedly embarrassing note. The organization’s first attempt at a team logo was met with instant ridicule, bashing the lazy design, and uncanny resemblance to a pair of other professional sports teams: the Tampa Bay Lightning and the LA Dodgers.
Days after the announcement, the Chargers have received little attention from fans and experts, which is probably for the best for the new team. While expectations are low, the Chargers have the benefit of a handful of veteran players, including star quarterback Philip Rivers, returning for at least one more season.
By 2020, both the Rams and the Chargers will move into Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, soon the be the most expensive stadium in the world, costing an estimated $2.66 billion. At that point, the new stadium would only increase the allure of established LA NFL teams as entertainment, regardless of their success. Much like AT&T Stadium in Arglington, Tx., games at the LA Stadium will be fully-fledged entertainment events.
The relevance of the Rams and the Chargers in LA doesn’t necessarily rely on wins and losses. Instead, these teams have a greater task to complete: Can they win over the city’s jaded fans? With the hope of future stars and the help of the soon-to-be grandest stadium in the world, we know it’ll at least be fun to watch in the football in the entertainment capital of the world.