We all remember exactly what we were doing the night we heard the Bombshell from Bonsignore, Vincent Bonsignore that is, regarding the Los Angeles Chargers and the actual reality that they could be leaving the City of Angels before ever moving into Kroenke’s Kingdom.
We mainly remember because it was less than 48-hours ago.
For those of you that live under a rock, or simply refrain from any social media usage, Bonsignore of The Athletic wrote a story that talked about the possibility of the Chargers, currently of Los Angeles, taking the torch and moving across the pond to London. I’ll dive more into the meat of the article here in a minute, but the key here is that the author writes about the “possibility” of this move happening. Never does he say that a move is imminent, nor does he quote the Owner, Dean Spanos, saying that he is open to it.
But people love headlines and controversy, and the tornado that this headline created was fascinating.
No I am not here to reiterate that this move is actually a possibility, and I am also not here to deny the potential. I simply want to talk about how we got to this point and my opinion of the Chargers tenure in Los Angeles up to this point.
Before we can talk about how we got to this point, we should first publicize each angle: the author, the team/owner, and the league (NFL).
First the author.
Contrary to what many Chargers’ fans may feel right now, Vinny Bonsignore is an extremely good journalist and does not take his job lightly. He puts in the work and has very credible sources.
When the headline first dropped, “With London Ready For An NFL Team, The Chargers Have Been Discussed As A Possible Option,” I too was shell-shocked. Barely two and a half years into the relocation to Los Angeles, and before the team ever steps foot into the soon to be finished $4.5 billion dollar palace, the Chargers and league are ready to pull the plug and relocate again?
But then I read the report, and this is much less of a vindication of another move and more of an indication of what “could” happen if things really do not progress in the current situation.
This quote speaks to exactly that, in my opinion.
“The Athletic also has learned that, while the team is fully committed to Los Angeles where it will move into the new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams next year, the Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.”
Essentially that reads to me, “We are committed to LA but if things get REALLY bad then we will hear you out.”
Bonsignore then goes on to talk about the viability of a team in London, a division realignment, a rabid fanbase, and a state of the art facility that just opened in April of this year. All fun and interesting talking points, but from the sound of it, specifically in regards to the Chargers, more speculative and opinion-based.
These “sources” could have simply been sitting around the poker table after a couple of drinks and tossed the idea around. Who knows.
Now let’s hear from the team and owner.
This is where things get really interesting. Not only did Owner Dean Spanos come out immediately and refute the “headline” that his team was interested in trading in their designer shades and Seven Grand Old Fashioneds for piping hot tea and a selfie with Big Ben, but he doubled down in his irrefutable plan to make things work in Los Angeles.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos on his team potentially moving to London: “It’s total f—kin bullshit. We’re not going to London. We’re not going anywhere. We’re playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long f—king time. Period.”
— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) November 5, 2019
Sounds pretty definitive to me, but I’ll let you be the judge.
And what does the league have to say about all this?
NFL released this statement on report that Chargers could move to London. pic.twitter.com/PzaEo2B9Oi
— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) November 5, 2019
And then back to the team response:
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) November 5, 2019
This is just one of my favorite movies and an absolutely stellar job by the Chargers social media team. But you get what I am alluding to.
So how did we get here? Not even three years into the Chargers being in LA and there are already talks about them moving again?
There is plenty of blame to go around. Blame the NFL for its requirements of a team to relocate. Essentially, much like a scorned lover, a team must prove that it’s fanbase and market is no longer sustainable, thus requiring a move. There are so many angles and narratives to the Chargers and San Diego split, but like almost every divorce, it was ugly, thus causing a ton of backlash.
Almost everyone that lives in Southern California has made the LA to San Diego trip countless times. Depending on where you are in LA or Orange County the trip can range from 1-3 hours (traffic permitting of course), but overall rather reasonable. For years, many Chargers fans living in the Los Angeles/Orange County area traveled down to San Diego every weekend to enjoy the Bolts play. Many of these LA residents were season ticket holders.
I bring this backstory up because, while you would never want to see a team that plays 15 minutes away move further down the freeway extending your commute, but in all reality, the Chargers hardly relocated but merely moved across campus to a new dorm. So you have to wake up a little bit earlier.
Now, I am not naive enough to dispel the ramifications this move had on the city, county, and community, but when it comes to pure fan-hood, a little bit longer commute shouldn’t have had the amount of backlash that it did.
But, because of the league’s need for proof, the Chargers, essentially, burned every bridge in San Diego, and vice versa San Diego to the Chargers, and so the divorce was messy, and a simple move 100 miles north, left many fans feeling betrayed and left behind.
Had the league and team championed this move as a unification between LA and SD, perhaps the sentiment among lifelong San Diegans would be different, perhaps. But essentially, Dean Spanos gave San Diego the Ron Burgandy treatment and told the city to go f#$% themselves.
But I digress, let’s get to the current time.
The Chargers are a team in Los Angeles now, whether people like it or not. The unfortunate thing is that it seems like the only narrative being reported is the not.
The biggest narrative that everyone loves to talk about is the Chargers’ home-field advantage or lack thereof. While there is no denying that away teams have packed Dignity Sports Park, you have to look at the big picture, not just through a microscope.
For the 2019 season, the average NFL ticket price per game has been $102.35, per Statista.com. The Los Angeles Chargers AVERAGE ticket price per game…$165.77, good enough for most in the league, by far. The next closest is the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots with an average price of $127.04.
Now, most of this ticket inflation has to do with the size of the stadium being monumentally smaller than other NFL stadiums, but part of it also has to do with the team simply being in Los Angeles. The Rams rank 6th in the league with average single-game ticket prices just above $118, and they play in the 77,500 seat Coliseum.
But regardless of the size of the stadium, the consumer still has to pay the ticket price. While you would hope that a die-hard fanbase would pay for and keep their tickets, it’s unrealistic to expect a fanbase of a team that has been in its current city for two and half years to not make the entrepreneurial decision to make triple the amount of the original ticket that they bought, and enjoy watching the home team from the comfort of their couch where beer is a quarter the price.
So a Green Bay Packer fan wants to escape the frigid temperatures of Wisconsin in November by spending $1000 on a pair of tickets and enjoying a weekend in beautiful Los Angeles. I don’t think any real fan wants to see their team play 16 “road games” but how can you really expect someone to turn down a two to five times return on their original investment.
LA is a city of hustle, and football ticket resale value is just another example of this. So while the optics may not look good, there are fans here, and the team is making plenty of money, I mean just look at how much the team is worth since moving to their new dorm. According to Forbes, since the announcement of moving from SD to LA, the team’s value jumped from $1.5 Billion to $2.5 Billion.
The final thing I want to touch on as to how we got here, is the involvement of the media. Ever since the Chargers got to LA, the narrative that continues to be driven is that they don’t belong here. That there is no fan base here. That they should have never left San Diego. That this whole experiment has been a disaster.
Maybe the Chargers shouldn’t have left San Diego, but a new stadium deal wasn’t happening (stadium takeovers by opposing fans was something that had been going on for years in San Diego, by the way, but most media would have you believe that the move is the cause for it…) and so a move was imminent and happened.
It’s time to embrace the Chargers in LA. Create a culture and environment that is worthy of an LA team. The Chargers are loaded with stars and talent. Hell, they were one game away from the AFC West Championship game last year, and yet all that most media outlets talk about is the opposing teams at the stadium…
Where most NFL teams have tons of media outlets, pillaging one another for stories and availability with coaches and players, the Chargers seem to be left with very little coverage.
This was on day 2 of training camp. Where most coaches and players are completely surrounded by media trying to get there questions in, it’s a bit of a different story at Chargers camp.
So where do we go from here? It’s time to embrace the Chargers in the City of Angels. It’s time to push the narrative that this team is 4-5 after two huge wins against NFC North opponents. It’s time to talk about how one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time may be on his last frontier in the NFL. It’s time to engage in talks of the dominance of Joey Bosa vs Aaron Donald. It’s time to get Keenan Allen and his personality all over the Hollywood scene. It’s time to make Hunter Henry the LA version of Gronk.
The Chargers are not in San Diego anymore. The Chargers are not moving to London at this juncture in time. The Chargers are Los Angeles. It’s time to let the rest of the world know that.