• Connor Watson

Why LA isn't a football town

Home to the Rams, Chargers, and the soon to be completed $5billion SoFi Stadium, LA should be the home of American Football, but you’d be mistaken in thinking it is.

© Photo by CrispyCream27

NFL teams in LA are facing a crisis, they’re playing every home game like they’re the away team. The Rams have resorted to using a silent snap count at the 75,000+ capacity, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; whilst the Chargers have been the minority fan base at all five of their home games this season.

In a county with a population of over 10 million, the same level as the entire state of Georgia, why do these teams struggle to find support?

Location, Location, Location

No one can deny that LA isn’t a bustling city, filled with the trendiest restaurants, bars and entertainment, it truly is the centre of glitz and glamour. With an estimated 50 million tourists visiting the city every year and home to some of the most famous celebrities the world over, the NFL shouldn't feel out of place.

But it is, not only are the Rams and Chargers battling amongst themselves to see who will be the most popular NFL team in town, they’re facing off against some of the biggest names in sports.

Here are just a few teams and brands they’re competing against for audience share: Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, USC, UCLA and LA Galaxy.

That list doesn’t include the San Francisco 49ers or Oakland Raiders, two teams who had already established a fan base in LA before the Rams and Chargers moved.

The Raiders have always had a strong pull to LA and many say if it wasn’t for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones torpedoing the potential Chargers/Raiders stadium deal, they would have moved instead of the Rams.

Now, the Raiders sights are set on Las Vegas instead, unfortunately for the Chargers and Rams that doesn’t mean LA residents aren’t still wearing silver and black uniforms.

The A list

On top of the split in the NFL market their problem lies in Lebron James, not the man personally, but the name.

How are two NFL teams meant to compete against one of the biggest sports personalities in the world, when their own quarterbacks aren’t even the biggest names in the NFL?

The market is saturated and with the addition of Anthony Davis to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers, LA has the star factor covered when it comes to sports.

With a limited amount of pages in the sports section, the Rams and Chargers are falling second favourites to NBA, MLB and even NCAAF teams when it comes to media coverage.

Now add those big names in sport to the endless stream of movie premieres, fashion shows, comedy nights, pop-up events and general buzz to the city you get a recipe for low ticket sales and a city easily accessible and desirable for away fans to visit.

How do you solve a problem like...

The SoFi stadium could very well be the answer to low fan turnout, with a number of food and retail outlets, this centralised location home to two teams may create the required atmosphere.

At least that will be the case for the first season, if they’re lucky. When the bubble pops and the allure of a trendy new place to eat, drink and watch football wears off the Rams and Chargers are left with the same problem, what do they have that appeals to fans in the city.

That could come in the form of a new quarterback, at least for the Chargers. Philip Rivers is now a veteran quarterback and in a league where pocket passers are slowly being pushed to the wayside Rivers is soon to be replaced.

This leaves two options for the Chargers, sign a quarterback like Cam Newton, Cam has years of experience and knows the position, he may be older but has years left on the clock and also has the star factor. One major complaint analysts have of Cam is he has other focuses outside of football, that is the perfect person to fill a role in LA.

Their second option is signing a young prospect in the draft, they have a couple of years to build them up with an experienced o-line but the risk there is the unpredictability and chance that whoever they sign may not be the star franchise quarterback they need.

The Rams are taking a similar route, signing player after player despite budgets over running on SoFi. It seems the Rams are running everything like a business partnership, not like a football team, in the hopes of making big names stick in a town of endless celebrities.

With the chances of reaching the playoffs shrinking and the likelihood of making the next Superbowl almost impossible it seems that the Rams and Chargers will be hoping that SoFi is plaster that stops the leak for the coming years.