Let’s rewind to just a little over a year ago.
The date was Jan. 4, 2016, the day after the end of the 2015 NFL regular season. This was the day on which three teams, the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, all filed for relocation to Los Angeles.
Ultimately, the Rams were granted the rights to move to L.A., while the other two teams were left in their original cities.
The Chargers announced on Jan. 12 that they too would be relocating to Los Angeles, where they will share a new stadium with the Rams, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2019 season.
One week later, news came across that the Raiders had filed the paperwork to relocate to Las Vegas. The move will be put up for vote at the NFL owners meetings in late March and will need three-fourths owner approval to grant relocation to the Raiders.
The news of these teams relocating has stirred up some controversy in NFL circles given the historic nature of each of these teams, especially the Raiders.
Ultimately, the reason for the Chargers and Raiders wanting to leave town came down to one reason: the lack of a new stadium.
Both teams have found it rough sailing in terms of being able to build a new stadium in their home cities.
Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the Chargers, has stood for the last 50 years, while Oakland Coliseum opened its doors 51 years ago. Both home stadiums are severely outdated, and when compared to more modern NFL stadiums, provide far fewer amenities.
The Chargers essentially had no choice but to move two hours north to L.A., as their efforts to get a new stadium in San Diego proved to be unfulfilling after years of trying. Now, the Chargers will play in the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. until the new stadium in L.A. is built, a 27,000-seat facility that currently houses the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.
The Raiders’ hand was forced as well while looking to build a new stadium in the Oakland area, as in 2014 their plan of tearing down their original stadium and building on the site was foiled when MLB’s Oakland Athletics, whom the Raiders share their stadium with, signed a 10-year lease deal to stay in the Coliseum.
What makes these stadiums so unacceptable is they are viewed in the same light as these other futuristic NFL stadiums that bring in revenue in all sorts of ways. The NFL has become a revenue driven league, and the stadium aspect has been affected most by this.
It started in 2009 with the opening of AT&T Stadium in Dallas as the new home of the Cowboys. The stadium itself cost $1.2 billion, but with all the amenities it offers, revenue is brought in from modes other than just ticket sales and concessions. This trend has continued with today’s new stadiums, such as MetLife Stadium, Levi’s Stadium, and U.S. Bank Stadium, all of which put a twist on the original stadium template.
While revenue helps the teams in the long run, hurting its fan base does not.
Take the Raiders for example, a team with some of the most passionate fans in the NFL. A team that is full of history, bringing three Super Bowl titles to the Bay Area and having some of the most well-known players and coaches along the way, such as Ken Stabler, Marcus Allen and John Madden. Now, pending a vote, football Sundays in Oakland are no more.
The same goes for San Diego. Players like Dan Fouts and LaDainian Tomlinson brought success to the franchise, and now their Chargers are leaving town.
The NFL is a revenue driven league. This has become the new reality.
Matt Ambrose is a journalism major from Exeter, N.H. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mambrose97.