As the now-Los Angeles Chargers made their infamous social media push with their Los Angeles impression of the Dodgers “LA” logo, many experts and fans reacted. Reactions varied, but there was a consistent theme in all responses, which was confusion abound. Confusion in how the Chargers ownership treated a dedicated San Diego fan base. Confusion in how the first step, or misstep, by a returning franchise to the Los Angeles area would invite criticism by copying an existing franchise’s logo. The Chargers new logo was met with amusement by the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning via their Twitter account.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 12, 2017
The team has since stopped using the logo referring to the move as a mistake. Telling, in itself, of a franchise searching for a new identity in a new city.
Beyond emotion, however, there are reasons for hope. If you are a Chargers fan, you may be filled with anger, despair, and thoughts of good riddance post a bad relationship. If you are a Los Angeles Rams fan, you may be feeling that two is a crowd. If you are a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, you may be thanking the Chargers for coming to their senses on their logo, while wondering what the future may hold. On the other hand, you may just be counting down the days until Spring Training begins.
It is fitting that as this author writes, it is on a day that we all celebrate that life of man, Martin Luther King, Jr., who exemplified hope. He always looked for the good in people and situations. In this light, King once said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Great words of wisdom to follow and it begins our “Five Reasons Why the Chargers New “LA” Logo Means Prosperity for All,” for both Angelinos and San Diegans.
1. Tax Dollars in Your Pocket
Previously, this author wrote about “The Story of Abandoned Stadiums” in the San Diego Lawyer magazine and “Stadium Financing: American Taxpayers should throw the Red Flag” in the Entertainment and Sports Lawyer publication. Unfortunately, the lesson learned is that we often rationalize with our emotion rather than logic and wisdom. When we rationalize with emotional responses like fear and anger (particularly of losing someone or something), we make rash decisions. Rash decisions sometimes lead to ill-conceived financial expenditures. In the sports franchising space, this means our tax dollars and abandoned stadiums.
Thankfully, San Diego taxpayers and businesses saved themselves at least nine figures by saying no to new hotel taxes to keep the Chargers in San Diego. San Diegans, by a 57% tally, voted logically, not emotionally, and they should be celebrated for it.
2. Tax Dollars in the City’s Coffers
We discussed previously ways to keep the Chargers in San Diego, but the front office brass did not follow our advice. We also discussed the sad facts about stadium financing and the team-friendly lease that had the Chargers paying $0.00 in rent. You can read about that here and here.
Regardless of whether the Chargers stayed or left San Diego, the Chargers wanted a new stadium in the downtown area. This means Qualcomm Stadium where the Chargers played would have been abandoned by the team, creating additional expenses and an unneeded eye sore.
By San Diegans saying no, the City of San Diego and its residents just gained $12 million dollars by the Chargers leaving because of the termination fee inside the lease agreement. $12 million dollars for projects that matter to all citizens. This may sound ironic coming from a sports attorney who believes that sports are the greatest form of unscripted entertainment, but again you cannot let your emotions cloud your good judgment. Understandably, this may take time for fans to accept and adjust. Just ask the folks in Brooklyn.
Will the Chargers be competitive in Los Angeles? Who should Los Angeles fans support? Can Los Angeles support two National Football League teams alongside professional baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer? Will the two Los Angeles football teams become global brands?
Competition is a good thing. Remember, we live in a free market economy. Sports seems to operate outside of that with their anti-trust exemptions, tax free stadiums, and tax collections, but the Chargers will be forced to compete for recognition in Los Angeles. Their “Fight for LA” slogan is fitting because it is what they will and should be doing through this transition process and beyond. Conversely, San Diegans can fight for continuing to be “America’s Finest City.” It is a designation that the city has earned and deserves regardless of a football presence.
4. Less for Angelinos and San Diegans to Argue About
Los Angeles and San Diego fans have longed argued with each other about their respective baseball teams and more. The Dodgers and the Padres have been rivals since the 1960’s. Angelino’s view San Diego as a cozy place to relax and enjoy life. San Diegan’s view Los Angeles as a place where the action happens, full of industry, movers, and shakers.
However, Angelino’s may also look at San Diego as a place too far from home and too slow in its pace of life. A colleague in Los Angeles once referred to San Diego as the “pueblo.” San Diegans view Los Angeles as a place to grow in status and stress. A colleague in San Diego once referred to Los Angeles as the “parking lot.”
Interestingly, Los Angeles and San Diego are two of the most populated cities in America with the highest concentrations of transplant residents. Civic pride is one thing, but so are the inconvenient facts that we all come from somewhere else and with it our family and sporting ties. Maybe with the Chargers gone from San Diego the two cities will have less to argue. Maybe that passion will translate into more debate surrounding the Dodgers and Padres. Maybe San Diegans will root for the Chargers despite their geographic location.
5. Time to Move Forward
Sports franchises and stadiums are built around one thing, money needed to build them and maintain their success. The Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles for a new stadium and new city, e.g., the promise of making more money and sustained success. Guess what, it worked.
The Chargers are following suit. The Rams already did it. The Clippers before them. The list goes on. The Chargers franchise value may add a little less than a billion dollars or double by the time they move into the new $2.6+ billion dollar sports stadium and complex with the Rams. The Chargers team valuation does not include a new television deal worth billions that the Chargers will likely sign once settled in Los Angeles.
Let us not kid ourselves, San Diegans may be dismayed and upset that the Chargers left, and we should be for how the ownership treated the city and its fans in the divorce.
However, it was San Diegans that chose wisely to not spend tax dollars to keep a profit-making business in town. Taxes are already too high in California anyway. Coming to grips with that may indeed be the key to acceptance of a long goodbye.
The money saved by saying no to a new billion-dollar Chargers stadium is a terrific sign that people want more than stadiums. In addition, San Diego can finally move forward and plan its future without the Chargers. San Diego may now continue charting its already vibrant course.
Still not convinced? In what other non-sports industry does an entity that is set to pass $13 billion is revenue in 2016, the most of any professional sports league in the world, require that cities put up billions of dollars in taxes, subsidies, and the like to fund itself? The people have responded and so have their viewing habits during the regular season, e.g., television ratings.
Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke did his part in Los Angeles. Kroenke mostly paid for his team’s new home, which will soon be home to the Chargers as well. St. Louis’s former Rams home stadium, not so much. St. Louis, like San Diego, however, saved money in the long run by saying no, and goodbye.
In the above context, the Chargers’ leaving does not sound so bad, does it?