The most interesting and, for the NFL, depressing fact of the day comes from L.A., where the two re-relocated franchises played on the same day before a turnout that surely has some owners wondering why they agreed to put two teams in a previously empty market. (And then they go back and admire their share of the relocation fees and they feel a lot better about it all.)
For their regular-season home opener at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center, the Chargers attracted 25,381 fans. The Rams, in their Week Two game against Washington, had 56,612 present. That’s a total of 81,993 for a pair of Los Angeles home games played on the same day.
The previous night at the Coliseum, USC drew 84,714 for a game against Texas. Which, obviously, is more than the combined attendance of the two NFL games.
Yes, the Chargers were closer to the stadium maximum than the Rams. But the fact that the Chargers can’t sell 27,000 tickets to an NFL game is alarming, especially since San Diego State drew more than 43,000 to the venue the Chargers abandoned a day earlier.
The Chargers could have chosen to remain in San Diego while the stadium they’ll share with the Rams in Inglewood is being built, but the Chargers chose to make the immediate move. It seemed smart at the time, given that the Rams already were in the L.A. market. But a quick, clumsy entrance ultimately may be worse than a slow, proper entrance.
Regardless, the question now becomes when/if someone will be making an exit from the L.A. market far sooner than planned. If the new, state-of-the-art, $2.6 billion venue doesn’t consistently attract capacity crowds or something close to it when it opens in 2021 (the same year the Raiders open a new stadium in Las Vegas), a league that spent 20 years trying to figure out how to put a team back in L.A. may need to start thinking about how to get one out, quickly.