Today, I witnessed passion that I hope will continue for many years to come. I attended the private kickoff of the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes, L.A. now has two NFL teams who will play at the new Inglewood stadium when it opens for the 2019 season.
If you thought it was exciting to have one NFL team back in L.A., imagine what it will feel like when both the Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams are playing in Inglewood.
The passion I saw and heard from Chargers fans, much like that of Rams fans, was very encouraging. Whether it came from those glad to have the Chargers in L.A. or those upset to see their team leave, the importance of having a pro ball team in your city is evident.
About 200 people welcomed the Chargers organization to the Forum—players, management, new head coach Anthony Lynn and owner Dean Spanos—along with Mayor James Butts and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Except for a heckler who wasn’t happy about the move, there were smiles and cheers all around.
Outside the Forum, fans—some who regularly made the two-hour drive to San Diego—expressed joy and relief that they won’t have to drive so far. The Chargers will play at the StubHub Center in Carson until the Inglewood stadium opens.
When a sports team relocates or a star player signs with a different team, there are always winners and losers. Inglewood is no exception. In 1999, the Lakers and Kings left Inglewood to play in the then-shiny and new Staples Center. Now, a $2.66 billion state-of-the-art facility in Inglewood has lured two NFL teams. In the race to build the biggest and best sports and entertainment venues, that’s how it goes.
To those who are protesting the Charger’s relocation, including the 25 moving companies in San Diego who are refusing to move the team to L.A., we in Inglewood know how you feel. But we cannot help but smile, knowing the history we are making, and the fiscal impact it is going to have on our future.
Having two NFL teams now, and both to play in Inglewood is cause for celebration. So let’s welcome the Chargers with open arms, as we have done for the Rams. Let’s make these sports franchises feel right at home. As Inglewood continues to evolve as a destination city, one thing is clear—there is more than enough passion in this town to go around.