Hometown fans hit NFL over L.A. move

As the National Football League neared a final decision on whether to relocate any franchises to Los Angeles, fans in cities that could lose teams gave the league an earful.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recognized how touchy things have become, as an unprecedented sequence of proposals and counterproposals has played out among the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. “We’ve been 20 years not in the Los Angeles market,” Goodell said, according to ESPN, calling an L.A. team “a huge plus for fans. There are 20 million fans in that market that would love to have a franchise. But we’ve got to do this responsibly. There’s a process, and we’re going through that process.”

Its latest set of twists and turns has played out at hearings in the hometowns of teams contemplating a move. “The three-hour meetings, held on consecutive nights in downtown theaters, were more listening sessions for the NFL than back-and-forth exchanges with fans, who registered online for free passes to the events,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The league also streamed the hearings online.”

Fan fury

ChargersAt times, fan frustration dominated. “It was loud. It was angry. It was sad. But no matter how much they pleaded for the Chargers to stay in San Diego, many wondered if it even mattered,” USA Today observed at the city’s downtown Spreckels Theater. The Chargers, according to the paper, “say they receive 25 percent of their local revenues from Los Angeles and Orange counties.” In St. Louis, the assembled booed every mention of Stan Kroenke, the Rams owner seemingly intent on shifting his team to a complex to be built on an Inglewood lot where a Walmart once might have been. Echoing a common sentiment, one fan told the Times “there was a feeling around St. Louis that the town hall meeting was merely a formality.”

Comments from the League seemed to reinforce that cynical judgment. In remarks reported by the Times, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman called the hearings “very cathartic,” but denied that fans’ strongly-voiced opinions ultimately held any sway. “What I got from the crowd was the passion and emotion. There were a couple of ideas to think about,” he said. “But this is not the time to negotiate. We weren’t trying to negotiate with the crowd. What we were trying to do was give them a voice, and be able to carry that voice back, and that happened pretty effectively.”

Hail Mary in Oakland

But in Oakland, at least, fans found succor from their team’s owner, Mark Davis, who vowed to do all he could to stay out of Los Angeles. “We need help from the community as well to get something that our fans in Oakland can be proud of,” he said, according to NFL.com. “We don’t have that right now and we want it. It can be done in Oakland. We’ve talked to three mega developers to get this going. We have been trying for at least the past six years, every day, hundreds of hours, to try to get something done here in Oakland.”

Nevertheless, Davis’s dedication might not pay off. As NFL.com pointed out, the Oakland Coliseum, where the Raiders still play, “was built in 1966 and has been plagued by numerous plumbing and other problems over the past decade.” In Los Angeles, under a proposed joint deal, the Raiders and the Chargers would share a new $1.7 billion dollar stadium located in Carson.

Whatever the feelings involved, the league appeared to be set on a course for a relocation process that could begin — and end — in January. “Teams would pay a fee to apply to exit their current market, and NFL owners can vote to determine the order of preference for franchises herding themselves into the California queue,” UPI noted.

3 comments

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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 2 November, 2015, 08:30

    For San Diego sports fans — and for taxpayers — the Chargers dilemma is pretty simple:
    1. The Chargers want to move to a bigger market. And for good reasons. While San Diego CITY is the 7th largest in the nation, the San Diego REGION is one of the smallest NFL markets in America — especially considering that LA is about to get one or more NFL teams.
    2. IF the Chargers get NFL permission to move to LA, nothing we taxpayers can offer them will keep them here — a wise financial decision by the Charger owners.
    3. If the NFL decides they CAN’T move to LA, we don’t have to spend a dime on their dream stadium.

    Either way, we should stop talking about a new stadium. Such a stadium won’t be the factor in whether they stay or go.

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  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 2 November, 2015, 10:53

    “If the NFL decides they CAN’T move to LA,…”

    The NFL has NO say whatsoever if a team can move to a new market, Al Davis proved that in 1982 when he moved the Raiders to LA and sued the NFL and won treble damages.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rick
    Rick 2 November, 2015, 14:52

    All three teams have previously been in LA and failed. Why is this time going to be any different? The people in LA have been able to watch many different games on TV. That will end when a team moves there. Blackout and home team rules will now take place and everyone will be forced to watch the local team or nothing. Fans lose again. Lastly, LA will not support any team that can’t win a Super Bowl every couple of years. That leaves the Chargers out of the picture and probably the Rams. The LA fanbase is on the side of the Raiders returning. The Rams and Chargers are ho hum in LA. The only people who are for these teams moving to LA are the politicians and local bureaucrats.

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