Sunday, June 1, 2008

NFL LA solution: SoCal Chargers

By Rick Morris

Never let it be said that I'm not a generous man. In the headline to this column, I just furnished, for free, the answer to one of the most pressing problems facing a multi-billion dollar conglomerate in the NFL. You're welcome, Commissioner Goodell.

Let's face it: it's a huge embarrassment for the NFL, which is admittedly the king of all American sports circuits, to have gone what will be a decade and a half without a franchise in the second-largest media market in the country. Sure, LA sports fans are spoiled and generally indifferent and lacking in any passion whatsoever. But it's no excuse for the league not to have a presence there. The freaking NHL has found a way to make two teams work in the LA-and-greater-environs territory; the NFL can't manage one?

In the continued freakish grasping for an answer, no matter how nonsensical, the league is apparently now willing to entertain the notion that the answer to the 49'ers' stadium issues lies in the southern half of the state. That is absolutely insane. The team is too ingrained in the NoCal market to entertain such a move. While neither team from the area should move, at least if the Raiders return south, they've got a heritage of sorts in the area.

But again, neither team should move south. Nor should any team move west to LA. The answer lies in having one team move north -- but not all the way north.

The Chargers.

San Diego is having its own issues regarding stadium needs. Back in the AFL days, the team actually played up north and was first known as the Los Angeles Chargers. So there's a heritage here, however distant.

Oceanside has been mentioned as a possibility, although talks fell apart. They collapsed purely because they were conducted in the where-are-the-Chargers-going-to-play vacuum. Connect these talks to the issue of how to solve the LA situation, involve the full might of the NFL to find a resolution and the situation is drastically different.


Oceanside is located roughly halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. Plant the team in the area, give it an official shared identity for the Los Angeles/Anaheim/San Diego markets and boom, situation solved. If Oceanside still proves to be too tough of a nut to crack, try some other possibilities in the immediate area, Carlsbad, San Clemente, etc.

But the bottom line remains the same: two birds can be killed with one stone here. Find a feasible city roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego on Interstate 5 and solve the LA and San Diego dilemmas with one fell swoop.

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