Tomorrow the NFL will announce which two teams have been approved to move to the league’s Holy Grail of media markets, Los Angeles. The St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders have all applied to move, each citing difficulty in obtaining a new stadium in their current markets. The teams that will announce they are moving will issue press releases that will mention that while they regret the move and appreciate their fans’ loyalty for so many years in their respective markets, the current stadium situations in those cities made moving a difficult decision but one they were forced to make. These statements will sound like the organizations had no choice, it was no stadium = move.
The reality is, each team that applied does have a choice: to build their own stadiums or not. Their choice is the latter.
It doesn’t even matter what the teams have tried to do to stay, or what each city has done – or hasn’t done – to keep the franchises in their current cities as the fix is in: the NFL desperately wants a team in Los Angeles. The excellent blog Field of Schemes, which documents professional sports teams
constant swindling of cities efforts in getting new facilities, has lots of details about this.
Let’s be clear: none of these teams are losing money. Each of these teams, via the NFL’s stadium loan program and other sources could build their own facilities. Each team, as seen many times before, are trying to get the most by spending the least. As they should – they’re businesses, after all.
But let’s not pretend that they were “forced” into doing anything, or give a damn about fan loyalty and the years, and dollars, that loyalty provided the franchises.