Wednesday, January 13, 2016

No To NFL In Los Angeles

The NFL has now lost its mind voting to move the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles.  The Rams are to play in the decrepit LA Coliseum for three seasons as a new stadium is built in Inglewood - this as funding for this proposed stadium remains murky and with the history of cost overruns to such facilities something to keep in mind.    The move personifies the myth that the NFL has been pushing that Los Angeles wants an NFL team.

The reality has always been different.   The Rams sold well in the early 1950s but as the city and its entertainment empires grew it stopped being a sports town, even as Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, and auto racing established facilities and teams in that sprawling megopolis and ran into an unchanging reality - fan support never amounted to anything to be excited about.   The Rams were joined by the Raiders in 1982 amid heavy controversy and by 1995 both were gone - in the press conference to announce the move of the Rams to LA, Roger Goodell claimed they and the Raiders left because the city did not upgrade their existing stadiums.   This, though, is not the truth - the truth is the Rams and Raiders by 1994 could no longer deny that no legitimate audience existed for the NFL in Los Angeles.  

It's a lesson auto racing learned more graphically with the failure of Ontario Motor Speedway and Riverside International Raceway and the more recent fall of the Fontana speedway even with the most amazing Indycar race ever seen.   Ontario in particular illustrates the illusions that drive sports bodies into thinking Los Angeles is a worthwhile market - Ontario was built on grossly optimistic attendance assumptions and when those assumptions crashed by the end of 1971 the track went through several owners before dying outright after the 1980 season.   Riverside outlived Ontario by just eight years.

The city has never proven it is any kind of sports town; instead Los Angeles remains what it has long been - a party town, a transient town that dabbles in sports from time to time but never sustains support for any of its teams or the speedways.   This is a point partly made by Boomer Esiason on Inside The NFL some weeks back that remains ignored by seemingly everyone in the league.

The NFL failed in Los Angeles already, and nowhere is there any evidence it can work now.

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