NFL

Field of Reality: If You Build It, They Probably Won’t Come

If you build it, he will come.” —Shoeless Ray “Joe Jackson” Liotta

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Those famous words, uttered in a ghostly fashion in the movie Field of Dreams, have come full circle in 2017, landing right in the same town (Los Angeles) that green lit the fabled baseball flick. This version of the Costner-like tale, however, shifts the blueprint from a random corn field in Iowa, to a gigantic, $3 billion stadium in Inglewood, Ca.—yes, the one from the song that says it’s always up to no good—and all the lucrative bells and whistles that come with a state-of-the-art dwelling, where you can buy $18 Cokes to go with $30 hot dogs covered in cheese and breakfast cereal and perhaps a toy of some sort.

Yum! (Yum?)

Anyway…

We’re talking about football here, gang, so the guy who played Poindexter in Nerds won’t be making an appearance. I’m sorry, but that’s just…reality. The way it is. For this version is all about the NFL, and money-eyed owners who are willing to run naked and backwards through a grove of bent palm trees IF it means their “brand” stands a chance of being considered cooler, more monetarily sexy. (Remember: That shit sells.)

And where the original kidnapping was executed at the displeasure of the deep-voiced acting treasure that is James Earl Jones…it’s now directed in more of a symbolic collective that involves fan bases, burned jerseys and team flags, mixed with the bleak reminder that few things seem as lonely as an empty football stadium.

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It all started with the now-Los Angeles Rams, who left St. Louis for Hollywood after the 2015 season, a welcome back type of deal that had old fans of Dickerson and Flipper (Anderson; not the dolphin) excited to FINALLY have the NFL back in SoCal—the second-largest market in ‘Murica.

The plan was simple: Play in the LA Coliseum until the new SOOOOPER STADIUM is constructed in 2019; and also become a staple in Hollywood that will eventually make people say, “No that’s a hot trend!” while washing down this dream-like potion with a touch of celebrity—Jack planted in a luxury box once or twice during a nationally televised game. Maybe Brad. Ashton. David Spade, a cat, empty pizza boxes, and down the the list we go…

Whatever the case, it was a package that St. Louis could not provide.

The organization—wanting a piece of the Marble Sidewalk like most people who move out to the Left Coast—hit the ground running, too: hard and fast, blind and without too much thought toward building the foundation before placing ads on every bus stop bench from downtown to the beach. As expected—as you do—the team landed on the HBO Doc’ series Hard Knocks, immediately going full-tilt—while ignoring that the actual dynamic of the Rams was a cold cheeseburger…the equivalent of printing out a thousand headshots before you get the haircut you want.

(The episodes were filled with funny entertainment, though—Gregg Williams needs his own show, STAT!)

In the end, however, like most of the teams featured on Hard Knocks, it needlessly highlighted a team that was better left un-highlighted. And the 2016 season, as you’d expect then , was shit, and the trend of NFL football, the love toward the team and head coach Jeff Fisher, evaporated into the unknown.

Yes, the Rams were like smog.

Regardless of the yay or nay, though, there was that new stadium. There IS that new stadium.  And it’s being built. There are sketches. There are sketches of the sketches. There are tweets of the sketches, and so on…

Hooray!

And, hopefully—whoever the “he” in this version of the story—by 2019, he will come.

But this tale doesn’t stop there.

No, this version, like most reboots, has a new twist, skewing off-script with uncharted storylines that shake the pillars of normalcy… I mean, at no time—zero!—when Ol’ Ray Kinsella was constructing his baseball diamond for the ghosts, did the voice say, “If you build it, he will come…and, oh yeah, there will also be a team from San Diego that will come, too, so there’s that.”

Huh?

With that, we arrive at the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers.

The big news broke this week that the longtime San Diego franchise (56 years) had no other options left to stay in their current situation and, because the residents didn’t want to hike the tourism racket—the bread and butter of San Diego—it was time to make like skinny jeans on a fat ass and split.

And so…the Chargers did the skinny jeans thing I just mentioned, and here we are. The drama of it all shocking the sports world.

The Los Angeles Chargers?

Says who!?!

The cloud of shame and hatred spread quickly, with the Chargers releasing a new logo—that won’t be the new logo because the kid who came up with it is now grounded—and hell on earth, at least for the Chargers’ fan base, had officially arrived, leaving behind only a note that equates to a stranger telling them he slept with their mother and killed the dog.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That fucking logo was the worst of all:

Now, only two years removed from being a city with ZERO NFL teams, the city of Los Angeles has two teams—One. Two. Buckle this, LUDICROUS SPEED, GO!!!

The Chargers, like the Rams, will play in a temporary setting at first—the Stubhub Center, a soccer stadium that seats a minuscule 30,000—while they wait to see if “he” comes in 2019 as well.

Sellouts for all! Literally.

Of course, owner Dean Spanos says that he didn’t want this outcome, that the city of San Diego had opportunity to make it right (and didn’t), and that this move is not star fucking.

But(!) read this, from Tom Pelissero:

If Spanos is willing pay a $550 million relocation fee to become football’s equivalent of the L.A. Clippers, playing in The House That Stan Built starting in 2019, why wouldn’t he increase the $350 million the Chargers had pledged towards a proposed stadium in San Diego and figure out a business plan to make back the difference?

Now, I don’t work for Charles Schwab, but that seems to look like an option that kept the team in San Diego. There was a chance, Lloyd. And, more importantly, it would have put an end to this:

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The creativity department must be full of those people who constantly re-gift presents.

Anyway, considering they made the scientific changes in the name of art and got the logo…just right…I say the point of We Didn’t/You Did is moot.

So then, the final question remains: Will it work?

Well…that depends on who you ask, but probably not.

This is an often-repeated point (via USA TODAY writer ):

Does it even know the Rams moved back last year? It’s hard to stand out in the entertainment capital of the world. And the Chargers have no history there, unless you count their invisible year there in 1960, when they sometimes drew 10,000 in a Coliseum that seated about 100,000, according to the aforementioned book by Richard Crawford.

The last time the L.A. market had two teams, in 1994, the Raiders and Rams ranked 24th and 28th out of 28 NFL teams in home attendance with 42,000 and 51,000 per game, according to STATS, LLC.

To answer the first part: To some, I doubt it.

Of course, when it comes to sports in Los Angeles, there’s always going to be the Pink Elephant in the Room that does brunch and talks about Imporv’ class on the weekends—when it’s not taking your drink order, that is. There’s the cliche of tanned asses, a lack of an attention span, and Southern California’s topography and weather that lends itself to sooooooooo many other activities on any given Sunday—like going to the beach and watching Any Given Sunday on your tablet-like device.

And, of course, there are the steadfast ideals that Angelinos schedule things around how badly (or not badly) traffic is…which we do…and blah, blah, blah, HORN HONK, SNORE, WE’RE SNORING NOW.

So yeah, if you follow that stream of thought, then how in the hell could it work? The entire idea seems primed to implode, leaving behind a greasy pile of mayonnaise and lost dreams; a stupid premise to begin with, really, like a sequel to the Entourage movie.

Obviously, it’s a fair point to assume that much of the criticism about Los Angeles as a quasi-sports town comes from people who don’t live out here—jaded folk from areas where it’s 30 degrees in June—and yet, they jump for joy, because that’s considered a warm front (time to take off the long-johns and burn off the Mountain Dew!). But they’re not totally wrong.

I say this because, as a resident of this Dog and Pony show, I can assure you for a fact that this town does love sports. It just doesn’t looooooooove the sports that involve the local teams—the direct result of the this town being inhabited by transplants from all over the grid. It happens.

Here is another point: Don’t confuse the geography of Southern California re: the smaller-city pleasantries of San Diego versus the urban sprawl and traffic snarl of Los Angeles. Ever. While two NFL teams does mean that there will be 16 games for other franchises’ fan bases to flock to each year—much like what happened in San Diego—getting around the City of Carson and South LA is not like frolicking in the Gaslamp Quarter or Pacific Beach. So betting on John and Jane Midwest to help keep things moving the next two years, while the new Field of Dreams is constructed, doesn’t hold water. It will be silly to assume so, too.

That people would go nutty and do weird shit just to see some palm trees?

Not everyone thinks like an owner.

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