by West Coast Craig

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY – It’s been fifteen years since Georgia Frontiere and Al Davis became so upset that SoCal taxpayers refused to pony up dough for new stadiums that they took their ball and left town. Sure, there was some rage and a sense of betrayal, but not quite on the scale of the Baltimore/Indianapolis/Cleveland merry go round, and for many Angelenos the reaction was a resounding… meh.

So when they left, the finger-pointing began. LA became like an Aesop’s Fable about greed, urban red tape, and civic backbitinG – maybe one about foxes all fighting over one chicken, not noticing while the chicken walked away – all the way to Houston. Everyone knows that Los Angeles is the second largest media market in the country. The NFL posted a 7.2 household rating in Los Angeles in 2008 – not a very big number, until you consider there’s no team here and yet more people watched football than in New Orleans, Jacksonville, Buffalo, and Kansas City combined. So, as Woody Allen said in Sleeper: “That’s a big chicken.”

The best idea was one of the first, when Dodger owner Peter O’Malley offered to build a stadium right above Dodger Stadium. Freeway access, parking, a central location right in the city with gorgeous views of downtown – it made too much sense. Nope, forcing its way into the picture came the venerable old dump, the Los Angeles Coliseum, like a once beautiful starlet now gone to seed, who decided that with enough plastic surgery she could still play twenty-something – and then raising her shrill voice and shouting down every other legitimate option until she was the only one left. By then, the picture went into turnaround (to use a little show-biz analogy but not quite as poetic as the way Art Modell once put it: “Putting a new dress on an old hooker is not the way I want to go dancing”. The Coliseum left all potential suitors lying face down in the swimming pool.

One of those guys who championed the Coliseum, Billionaire Ed Roski Jr., is close to building a new stadium with all the trimmings. It will not be in LA but in a homey little place with the quaint old fashioned name, The City of Industry – a place with no business tax and less than a hundred registered voters – who voted through a bond approving the stadium 66-1. I believe that one naysayer was escorted beyond city limits by the sheriff and told to take his commie ways to Rancho Cucamonga. Roski already bought off a number of the surrounding cities who threatened law suits and used his weight to get our Governator to tear up other environmental impact lawsuits. It seems the property had an environmental impact report prepared for a warehouse and the change to an $800 million, 75,000 seat stadium (with attached shopping and entertainment plaza) was simply swapped in. Already it’s gotten 150,000 ticket requests – for a team and stadium that don’t exist. It’s a game of chicken, so who’ll end up like James Dean and how much wreckage are we gonna have to clean up?

The BOTTOM LINE is that an NFL team will be a huge success here, so the question remains: Does LA need the NFL more than the NFL needs LA? I could care less but I have some reasons why it needs to happen:

• Because, while you’ll never get an awesome snow game or ice bowl in Los Angeles, there’s a fair chance a game might be interrupted by an earthquake. I wonder if that stack of environmental reports Arnold was photographed with included a reference to this. What would be more exciting than Maurice Jones Drew breaking into the open, and then having not only to outrun linebackers, but a terrible, widening chasm. Is there a Roland Emerich movie in that?

• Because a generation has grown up in Los Angeles without Pro Football. This is always the first argument pro-LA NFL advocates use…and here’s the proof: there are only two Los Angeles high school teams (Oaks Christian and Crenshaw) in the USA Today top 25 this year. These kids might think that USC is the only place where players are paid to play. If we get an NFL team, maybe Jacksonville or Buffalo will start to get decent high school programs.

• Because LA is a city full of USC sweatshirts being worn by people who neither have the grades nor cash to go there. Let’s throw the grades out of the equation…we need a professional team with sweatshirts for people who are lacking only the cash to go there.

• Because if LA was awarded the team instead of Houston in 1999, chances are we could hold a lead against the Colts once in awhile.

• Because even the Clippers have some sexy cheerleaders. Imagine what a football team will bring?

• Because Billy Crystal needs a football team.

• Because bringing the Rams or Raiders (or both) back here would be hilarious.

• Because, let’s face it, the Superbowl in Los Angeles would be a million times better than ever having another one in rain soaked Miami, yawn inducing Phoenix, or anyplace under a dome.

• Because with all the moolah that would be brought in, perhaps everyone will forget to strike next year.

• And because most of all, to all of you fans in Buffalo, Jacksonville, Minnesota, San Diego, or anywhere else where your d!ckhead owner is holding Los Angeles over you to pony up tax dollars to pay for his stadium (and his eighth house), which despite his arguments will have no economic impact on your community (unless sinking you deeper into the recession counts), one of you will be the sacrificial lamb here but the rest won’t have to worry about it again…until the NFL decides that Roski’s new stadium is big enough for two home teams.

One last note about the Coliseum, and keeping with the chicken theme, the old lady has hosted two Olympics, the Superbowl, even the World Series, but I think its greatest moment was Wattstax in 1972, when Rufus Thomas did the Funky Chicken. If leaping over barriers and dancing with giant afros and tight dresses can be considered a sport, this is the All Star Game.

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About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.