The Chargers lost the first skirmish in their self-described “Fight for LA.”
Not only did the Los Angeles Chargers drop their NFL preseason opener, 48-17 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but the team’s first game at StubHub Center attracted less than a sellout crowd.
Not that a sellout crowd would’ve been all that difficult to produce. StubHub Center, in beautiful Carson, Calif., is a soccer stadium, home to the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy, and holds only 27,000. Perspective is everything here. To give you an idea of how big (or small) 27,000 is, it’s two Dodgers crowds.
But in their first game back in Los Angeles (the Chargers played their first season in L.A. in 1960 before moving to San Diego), didn’t even reach the 27,000 sellout figure. An announced crowd of 21,054 was on hand for the Chargers’ first game.
Note: Whenever they call it an “announced crowd,” it’s because it looks like considerably less than what they announced. The word “crowd” is probably a little suspect, too. “Gathering” or “assembly” might be more accurate. Or maybe “sewing circle.”
But when your “announced crowd” still isn’t even anything close to the capacity number at an NFL stadium that holds only 27,000, you’ve got problems. The next smallest NFL stadium is Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 53,286. The Raiders have announced plans to leave for Las Vegas after the 2018 season.
Like we said, perspective is everything. The night before the Chargers drew 21,054, the Galaxy had 25,667 see it lose 2-0 to New York City FC. This season, the Galaxy is averaging 23,167 in its 12 games at StubHub during one of its worst seasons in recent memory.
It should be noted that the Chargers have gussied up their new stadium as well as they can and certainly in a smaller venue, you are much closer to the action. There are premium locations to watch the game and even “cabanas” to go into in case you’re more interested in drinking than you are in watching the Chargers. Or in case watching the Chargers drives you to drink.
It should also be noted that on Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams, who returned to L.A. from St. Louis last season, drew 62,888 for their preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum. And the Rams were 4-12 last year.
The Rams and Chargers are both scheduled to inhabit a sparkling new 70,000-seat stadium in Inglewood in 2020.
In the meantime, three seasons may seem like 30 at StubHub Center to the Chargers, who went 5-11 in 2016.
I’ve covered a high school football state championship game at StubHub Center. Even high school football seemed like a stretch for the stadium then. The press facilities, obviously, have been improved since then, but back then there wasn’t even enough room for someone to walk behind a person who was seated in the press box.
Of the NFL’s 31 venues, 17 are called “stadiums,” as in Arrowhead Stadium or AT&T Stadium. Ten are called “fields,” as in Lambeau Field or Soldier Field. Two (L.A. and Oakland) are called “coliseums.” and one is called the Superdome.
Only one is called “center.”
“Center” is great if you’re an NBA team. In the NBA, 17 of its 29 arenas are called “center” (or in Toronto, “centre”). But in the NFL, you should play in a “stadium” or a “coliseum” or in something “super.”
The Chargers will, eventually. But if Sunday’s Los Angeles debut is any indication, not very many may care.
THE WEEK JUST PAST
Now, while counting my announced crowd on one hand, here’s a look at the week just past:
- The real “fight for L.A.” came last week when the Rams and Chargers scrimmaged in Orange County. The large-scale brawl started when Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson shoved Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman. During that scuffle, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman ran onto the field to defend his teammate and was taken down by Chargers receiver Keenan Allen. It was a fight that would’ve been unlikely to happen in the regular season and never would’ve gone on that long.
- Speaking (again) of the fight for L.A., it would be interesting to see which TV station had the biggest ratings over the weekend: Channel 2 for the Rams, Channel 7 for the Chargers — or Channel 5 for the Raiders. Only thing was the Raiders were tape-delayed. Apparently, they didn’t want to hurt the attendance coming in from L.A.
- Chris Sale has had a great season pitching for the Boston Red Sox. It seems like so long ago when he was with the Chicago White Sox and was suspended for five games for cutting up a bunch of throwback jerseys merely because he didn’t want to wear one. If he couldn’t wear them, then neither could anyone else. Like we said, it seems so long ago, but it was just over a year ago.
- The Washington Nationals are breathing a sigh of relief after their slugger, Bryce Harper, sustained only a bruised knee after slipping on the bag at first base over the weekend. The play looked like every ligament in his leg would wind up in Baltimore.
- Scott Boras, Harper’s agent said Major League Baseball must take steps to ensure that wet, slick bases aren’t a safety hazard in rainy weather. They must do this, apparently, to make sure Boras doesn’t lose any money.
- Speaking of the Nationals, it was great to see former Angel and Dodger Howie Kendrick hit a walk-off grand-slam home run in the 11th inning Sunday night to beat the San Francisco Giants.
- Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs said — after striking out, of course — that he would like to see an electronic strike zone in the major leagues. “If we want to change something like that, we’re going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes,” Zobrist told ESPN. He’s sure to get plenty of calls his way from umpires now.
- Wisconsin and Notre Dame announced they will play football at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field in 2020 and at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2021. This will be news in three years.
- Boxer Floyd Mayweather fights mixed martial artist(?) Conor McGregor Saturday, Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. For those of you wondering, like my wife was, it’s a boxing match. No grappling. No judo. No pummeling. No artistry. Also, for those of you wondering, it will be an incredibly overblown event.