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Concerns Raised About Viability of Los Angeles Chargers

StubHub Center

Concerns about the viability of the Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly surfacing, raising questions about whether the Chargers can build a following in LA. 

When they exercised an option to relocate from San Diego to Los Angeles in early 2017, the Chargers set themselves up for a unique situation. With a new Inglewood stadium to be shared with the NFL’s Rams not expected to open until 2019–the stadium’s opening was later pushed back to 2020–the Chargers opted to play home games at StubHub Center, a soccer-specific stadium located in suburban Carson.

Despite having a team that finished a solid 9-7 last year and is off to a 4-2 start this season, the Chargers do not appear to be resonating in Los Angeles. StubHub Center is limited to around 30,000 seats for NFL games but the facility is rarely filled to capacity, and games there have become noted for the number of fans from visiting teams in attendance. Some of this may attributable to the stadium’s status as a temporary venue, but a new report indicates that some NFL executives and owners are concerned about the team’s long-term viability in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported that league executives and owners have been discussing the Chargers’ viability in the Los Angeles market, and that the club was expected to lower its revenue goals for the new Inglewood stadium.

It was also on Wednesday that the Chargers announced new ticket pricing for the Inglewood stadium, with the prices not only lower than those of the Rams but noticeably low by NFL standards. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Not that prices should be deemed “cheap” given the option to instead watch the games for free from home, but the Chargers’ pricing of seat-license fees and tickets for more than a third of the 70,000-seat venue certainly isn’t targeting Beverly Hills and Malibu clientele.

More than 26,000 seats will be priced between $50 and $90 per seat, per game.

The seat-license fee? One hundred bucks — pennies on the NFL scale. (For comparison’s sake, the cheapest seat license offered by the Rams is $1,000, with the accompanying season ticket at $60 a game.)

When the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, it came after years of failed discussions about building a new stadium in San Diego–with the last major effort being a downtown stadium/convention center proposal rejected by voters in November 2016. The decision to move to Los Angeles was fueled by plans for the Inglewood stadium, with the StubHub Center serving as an unconventional solution, albeit one that the team found preferable to remaining at the former Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego while awaiting a new facility (in fact, the Chargers have said that stadium revenues were higher at StubHub Center in 2017 than they were at Qualcomm in 2016).

The real test for the team, though, might be when the new Inglewood stadium opens. Being constructed as part of a sprawling entertainment complex, the venue is positioned to stand out in a very competitive market for major sports franchises, one that also includes two successful MLS squads playing in separate stadiums, two NBA teams and an NHL team playing at the Staples Center, MLB’s Dodgers, and–down the road in Anaheim–MLB’s Angels. If the new stadium meets its lofty hype it could provide a boost to the Rams and the Chargers, but whether the Chargers are ultimately able to capitalize on that higher profile remains to be seen.

Image courtesy Los Angeles Chargers.

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August Publications