Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti went on “The Dan Patrick Show” Wednesday to discuss the NFL in LA and relocation. In a very interesting interview, Garcetti tellingly said he believed the now-Los Angeles Chargers probably should have stayed in San Diego.
Here’s the key quote from the interview as it relates to the Chargers:
“My heart goes out to folks in San Diego … We always said in LA: The NFL needs us more than we needed them, and we weren’t going to be one of those cities to subsidize stadiums. That was a 20-year standoff, but ultimately I think people came to their senses and realized we love football … but we also were going to wait and do it on our terms, because we got important priorities for our public tax dollars.
“I said at the time, both the Raiders and the Chargers could have stayed put where they are, because Oakland and San Diego have huge fan bases. There’s a big tradition … I believe in players playing for a long time on teams, and teams staying in a city for their lives. That’s really what makes it great growing up. You can root for the players and teams without wondering if it’s all going to be about business, and where somebody could make a few hundred million dollars more.
“We embrace any team that comes. We’re certainly happy to have the Chargers in LA, but I think we could have been happy with just the (Rams) too.”
Wow. Garcetti basically just said, “I mean we’ll take them but they shouldn’t have come here.” When was the last time you heard the mayor of a city with a newly-relocated sports franchise say that? I’m gonna go with never.
It’s clear to everyone but Dean Spanos and a handful of sycophants that this move is a disaster. The Chargers moved to a city that doesn’t want them and abandoned their actual fanbase in the process. San Diego-based fans have not followed and now Spanos and company are stuck in a city that doesn’t care about them with no fans to fill even his minuscule temporary home.
For people who don’t understand why this is such a constant topic, let me sum it up for you. For 20 years we were told the NFL needed to be in Los Angeles. That came after two franchises left the city largely due to a lack of fan support. Now, the league shipped two teams to Los Angeles in two years, completely abandoning two large fanbases in the process. Those two teams are now struggling to fill their respective stadiums and the optics have been awful since midseason in 2016.
Instead of putting one team in LA and seeing how the city responded and supported the franchise, the league shoved two there. It’s clear that was a terrible idea. How clear is that? Even the local mayor thinks it was moronic. We’re in uncharted territory here and it’s a major story.
As the Chargers prepare for their first game in their new city, the league is struggling with the fact of empty stadiums across the league and a lack of local buzz in the “Fight for LA.” It’s clear the league never should have allowed this to happen. Roger Goodell and Spanos’ fellow owners must accept a decent share of the blame as well.
Unless something crazy happens, the league may have to step in and end this embarrassment somehow. I’m not sure what that would look like, but forcing Fredo Spanos and his two kids (Fredo Jr. and Other Fredo) to sell the team to an owner willing to move back to San Diego where it would actually have fans might be a solution.