The Chargers’ struggles in L.A. continue to be exacerbated by periodic reports that they won’t be staying in L.A. for very long. And that’s very good news for the other NFL team in L.A.
It also makes the Rams the prime suspects in the endless stream of rumor, speculation, and innuendo regarding a potential relocation of the Chargers.
Whether it’s a return to San Diego, a relocation to St. Louis, or a 5,400-mile move to London (none of which are happening), the whispers that the Chargers won’t be long for Los Angeles continue. Given that they’re coming at a time when both the Chargers and the Rams are trying to sell PSLs, tickets, and/or suites at the new stadium they’ll share as of 2020, lingering uncertainty regarding the Chargers inures directly to the benefit of the Rams.
In every market, sports fans have only so many dollars to spend. With two NFL teams in the same market, and with both teams trying to establish a base of paying customers in a 70,000-seat venue when the paying customers can choose to patronize either team, one way win the battles for the hearts, minds, and wallets of Angelenos would be to perpetuate the notion that one of the two contenders may remove itself from the competition.
While fans picking the Rams over the Chargers hurts the Rams indirectly by depressing the revenue the Chargers will generate at the stadium owned by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, fans of teams facing the Chargers will still buy the tickets to games (with 20-plus years of no NFL teams in L.A., thousands of fans of every team reside there), making the stadium full or close to it regardless of the size of the Chargers’ fan base in L.A.
So Kroenke will still make money from having the Chargers play at his stadium, and the Rams will preserve their top-dog position in the L.A. market if the Chargers’ struggles to establish a foothold continue to be undermined by the perception that they already have one foot out the door.
To be fair, the Chargers have done little to protect themselves. Last year’s 12-4 season generated little or no local excitement, and the team has made decisions in free agency and the draft without regard to the importance of having players that fans will pay to see. The Rams have found a way to operate with substance and style, and style definitely becomes a big part of the equation in L.A.
Whether the Chargers adjust their roster-management strategy accordingly, they definitely have dramatically changed their P.R. approach. The deliciously profane comments from owner Dean Spanos ooze with the frustration that comes from the perception/reality that the Rams are working the media to establish and maintain a false narrative that the Chargers may leave. Hopefully, Spanos and company will work behind the scenes to tell the league and the Rams that the Chargers understand what the Rams are doing, and that if the Rams keep it up the next batch of quotes from Spanos will include both profanity and a direct claim that the Rams are behind the leaks of #fakenews.