Author: Mirin Fader
Farmers Field, Anschutz Entertainment Group’s (AEG) newly proposed $1.3 billion stadium at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, has generated a diversity of responses among sports fans around the nation.
The idea that one of the current National Football League (NFL) franchises might call Farmers Field home by 2015 has come as even more of a shock.
On Sept. 9, the California Assembly passed Senate Bill (SB) 292, a bill proposed to both make Farmers Field an environmentally friendly stadium and also to protect future employees of the stadium from frivolous lawsuits, by a 59-13 vote. This bill is poised to help supporters of Farmers Field move forward in their quest to break ground by the summer of 2012.
Many Occidental student-athletes stay informed on the Farmers Field discussion and have plenty of their own opinions about the prospect of a new Los Angeles team.
The preliminary topic of the debate is which NFL team would relocate to Los Angeles. Currently, the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings are the five teams that have been named as possible candidates.
Matt Tuckness (junior), a member of Occidental’s football team, believes both the Raiders and the Chargers could potentially succeed in Los Angeles because of their ability to draw a broad fan base.
“I think the Raiders would be the best fit because they already have a fan base from their previous years that would ease the transition back to L.A.,” Tuckness said.
“I also think the Chargers would be a good fit because they are a good, exciting team that could easily attract a lot of fans,” he said.
The Chargers, Raiders and Rams all share a history in Los Angeles. The Rams had the longest tenure out of the three, playing in Los Angeles from 1946-1994. The Chargers were originally established in Los Angeles in 1960, but relocated to San Diego in 1961. The Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 but returned to Oakland in 1994, largely as a result of poor attendance.
Attendance plays a crucial role of debate in the Farmers Field conversation. Los Angeles already hosts two major collegiate athletic programs in the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as professional teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Kings. Because of this, many fans are skeptical of the need or space for an NFL team, claiming that said team might struggle to garner fan support in the competitive southern California sports market.
Luke Collis (senior), a captain of Occidental’s football team, affirms that the proposed NFL team will struggle with attendance, losing potential fans to collegiate football games.
“With UCLA and USC football already established it is difficult to find the football fans to fill the NFL stadium,” Collis said, “Take into account that most people in L.A. already have hometown loyalties somewhere else and the fan base for a new team declines dramatically.”
Drew Dockweiler (sophomore), a member of the men’s basketball team, asserts that the abundance of professional sports teams in Los Angeles undermines the necessity for a professional football team.
“I don’t want to see an NFL team in L.A. because it would just be too much. The Clippers and the Lakers are the main teams. It would be a waste to build a new stadium because a football team just isn’t something we need,” Dockweiler said.
Other Occidental athletes feel differently—that perhaps an NFL team in L.A. could co-exist alongside the existing professional and collegiate sports teams.
These individuals bring up the interesting notion that the Los Angeles is so large that it could never be over-saturated with sports coverage and that different sports will undoubtedly draw their own unique crowds.
Deshun McCoy (junior), a member of the men’s basketball team, believes an NFL team in Los Angeles would serve as an addition to the already thriving sports city. “An NFL team would be a great addition to Socal,” he said, “It would liven up Los Angeles even more.”
Madyson Cassidy (sophomore), a member of the women’s volleyball team, also suggests that an NFL team would contribute to the vibrant sports culture of L.A. by attracting many fans.
“I think a pro football team would fit in great and would only expand the amount of fans around and give us another thing to watch and root for,” Cassidy said.
Pedro Aldape (junior), member of Occidental’s baseball team, asserts that an NFL team would easily fit in Los Angeles, a mecca of sports and entertainment.
“Football in L.A. would flourish because L.A. is the center of entertainment,” Aldape said, “People would definitely go to football games for the simple fact that there is a huge football fan base in L.A.”
Because a team’s livelihood, revenue and attendance are subject to change based on a team’s record, many fans are ambivalent about the arrival of a team in L.A.
While an NFL team may integrate well in Los Angeles, it may struggle with winning games, another concern raised by sports fans.
Sam Stapleton (junior), member of the men’s basketball team, stresses the importance of bringing a competitive team to Los Angeles in drawing fans. “Attendance will come down to how competitive the team is. If the team is competitive I can’t see why people wouldn’t go to the games,” Stapleton said.
McCoy is from Los Angeles and is one such person who suggests winning should be a long-term expectation for the new team rather than a short-term goal.
“Winning is a part of every franchise. That’s just the expectation,” he said. “But it takes time. You can’t win overnight.”
Regardless of the new team’s record, however, Los Angeles fans are excited about the possibility of a new franchise moving to the area.
“I grew up loving the San Francisco 49ers,” he said. “Then I got older and asked myself
, how can I represent a team 3,000 miles away? I’m an L.A. native. That’s where I’m from. L.A. is where I’d like to be able to represent a team.”
While the rumor mills continue to swirl with much debate over Farmers Field, it is difficult to not get excited about the possibility of having an NFL team so close to Occidental for the first time in almost two decades.
It will be interesting to follow the developments from L.A. Live to see if Farmers Field will actually come to fruition in the near future. With the 2011 NFL season underway, many sports fans at Occidental and beyond are anticipating which franchise will turn into the most sensible candidate to move the west coast.
As for the stadium itself, individuals from AEG continue to iron out the intricate details and move ever closer to the construction of Farmers Field.
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