NFL In Los Angeles? No Thank You

It's Super Bowl weekend and the entire nation will come to a halt on Sunday afternoon to watch big game. Well, not everywhere. Certainly not in Los Angeles. See, we don't have an NFL team. Haven't had one since 1995 when two teams bolted for the greener pastures of St. Louis and Oakland. That's sixteen years with no pro football (Unless you're counting USC.) Almost an entire generation of potential fans in Los Angeles has been lost to soccer, basketball, the beach, going out to dinner and reading. Speaking for most of the populace, we don't miss the NFL one bit.

Suddenly the city officials have a hankering to build a billion dollar football stadium right in the middle of downtown, right in the middle of the recession. AEG, the people who brought us Staples Center and LA Live, have secured $700 million from Farmer's Insurance for the naming rights to Farmer's Field. The other $350 million will come from our financially strapped city issuing bonds. All the "haves" are spreading the word to the "have-nots" that we must build this stadium. Farmer's Field will be a boon for the city. More jobs! Better for the economy! Not so fast, haves.

First of all this stadium and team will be a toy for the rich, not the average citizen. Let's look at the Dallas Cowboys. If you want to buy season tickets, you have to pay a one-time licensing fee of between $16,000 to $150,000. For each seat! If you don't want to sit alone, double the licensing fee. Now that's just for the right to buy the seats, not the price of the seats themselves. If you think Dallas is extreme because it's Texas, think again. The Carolina Panthers charge $20,000 for seat licenses. How much do you think a pair of tickets on the thirty-yard line will cost at Farmer's Field? How much money do you have in your IRA? The people in Los Angeles will be paying for a party they're not invited to.

The NFL is not marketing to fans anymore. Like everything else in America, it's all about corporations. They're the only ones who can afford to buy tickets. Regular fans? Forget it. Think I'm exaggerating? This Sunday's Super Bowl is so ridiculously out of touch with average American that the NFL is charging fans the bargain price of $200 to watch the game on large screen TVs in the parking lot of Cowboy Stadium! I kid you not. Can you think of anything more humiliating? Give us money, but you can't go inside and heaven forbid, don't go near the hedge fund managers. Super Sunday has become Corporate Christmas.

There has been talk that if we build Farmer's Field, we will be able to attract two teams to Los Angeles. I'm not sure we'd like to steal two teams from existing cities. It really was devastating for sports fans in the Southland when the Raiders and Rams skipped town. Why would we want to do that to other fans? I don't. Plus the NFL hasn't exactly treated Los Angeles with respect the past few years. For some reason, they now play a regular season game in London every year. Last year they also played one in Canada. Hey, what about us? Seems like we're off the NFL's radar for good unless we build them a stadium. And if we do, there's no guarantee that we'll even get a team. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has gone out of his way to ignore us. They're just not that into us in Los Angeles.

I'm a football fan. I grew up in New York where my father had season tickets for the New York Giants. I loved going to the games with my Dad. Nothing better. After I moved out to LA, I bought season seats for the Raiders at the Coliseum with a group of friends. (Contrary to belief in the pro football universe, the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl are two fine stadiums, beloved by most Southlanders.) I've been to two Super Bowls at the Rose Bowl and enjoyed every minute of them. (The corporate tents only took up half the parking lot back then.) However, when we lost the Raiders and the Rams in '95, I lost interest in the NFL. Over the last sixteen years Los Angeles has been used by other teams to shake down their cities to give the local teams sweetheart deals on stadiums the communities can't afford by threatening to move to Los Angeles. The first time the NFL teased us with a team I'll admit I got excited. I lost interest the second time they pulled the rug out from under us, as did most of the fans that went to Raider and Rams games. They lost more fans the third, fourth, fifth and sixth time. Now, except for some transplants from back east and a handful of people who still believe they're part of Raider Nation, we really don't care.

We in Los Angeles have learned to live without pro football. It's not the end of the world. I'll be watching the Super Bowl at a party on Sunday, where most of us will fall silent and watch during the commercials while ignoring the game itself. We've lived without the NFL for sixteen years now. I'm pretty sure we can live without it for another sixteen. Besides, this weekend it's going to be in the eighties! Perfect beach weather!