The NFL has lost its mojo

Since the 1980's the NFL has blackmailed cities into giving them tax breaks, guaranteed attendance contracts, and public-financed stadiums.
They could do this because they could always move to another city and find a ready fan base. Always.

Until now.

Even though the Chargers' temporary home in Los Angeles holds no more than half the seats of a regular NFL stadium, the team has had trouble selling it out, and games there are marked by an unusually high proportion of fans on hand to root for the opposing teams. The situation has caught the attention of other NFL owners, according to a report Wednesday, and they have discussed the “viability” of the Chargers remaining in a place where they have gone from a disliked downstate rival to a distant second fiddle to the Rams.

That’s according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, who reported that the Chargers' plight was a “major discussion topic among NFL owners/executives at this week’s league meetings.” Citing sources, Wickersham added that the team has struggled to sell personal seat licenses for the new stadium, set to open in 2020, that it will share with the Rams, and that the Chargers are “expected” to drop their initial revenue goals for that season from $400 million to “around” $150 million.

Given that the ultimate point of NFL relocations is to make more money for those squads and the league as a whole, the sharp decrease in revenue expectations from a facility expected to boast the latest in state-of-the-art stadium design and amenities has to have come as worrisome news for other owners.

A 65% cut in revenue is a crisis no matter how you spin it.
That's a monstrous drop for a team that's also in the middle of paying a $645 million relocation fee.
It isn't just the lack of ticket sales. The value of the team went from 21st to 22nd in the league.
So yes, fans do still matter. Or lack of them.

it's hard to imagine the Chargers filling a 70,000-seat stadium in 2020 if they can't even fill a 26,000-seat soccer stadium with their own fans right now.

Charger attendance is so bad that it's become a late-night joke.

Even when fans do show up, they are generally opposing team fans.

In fact, the Chargers even started pumping in crowd noise at practice to prepare for a home game.

It isn't just attendance. No one is watching the games either.

This past Sunday, the Chiefs-Chargers game (5.5) had a lower rating than the Cowboys-Panthers game (7.6) shown at the same time in LA.

In San Diego, where fans don’t have a team anymore, ratings for Chargers games have taken the kind of dive that would make for a great roller coaster ride. PFT said that in 2010, ratings in San Diego for the Chargers sat at an average of 31.6. In 2016, their final season in San Diego, ratings dropped but held strong at 24.4 considering local fans knew they would be losing their team. Now that they’re in LA, ratings have gone down to 14.2 in 2017 and 11.7 in Week 1, retaining just below half the audience compared to two years ago.

For now the Chargers and the NFL are taking a "if you build it, they will come" approach.
But if the fans don't turn out, if the NFL is wrong, then this would completely upend the power dynamics between NFL teams and cities.
No longer would moving an NFL team be risk-free, and thus blackmailing cities would become much more difficult.
Also, the NFL is a revenue-sharing league. Thus one team's losses get shared with everyone else.
Finally, any team that simply lacks fans is a PR nightmare that will eventually force the league to do something about it.

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Comments

Wink's picture

Like it's killing Baseball.
"we pause 6 seconds between pitches for a word from (Miller Lite)... "
wtf?
Or how 'bout this in a televised NFL game...
Team scores.
Commercial break.
Team kicks off, return team returns kickoff to the 25. First & 10.
But first...
Commercial break.
smh.
Attend a live college football game.
Have to wait for tv ads to finish before play is resumed.
Watch cheerleaders. More cheerleaders.
Finally play resumes.
End up watching cheerleaders more than game.
And they wonder why they're losing audience.
oh! Another thing is searching TV Guide to find out what crappy "network" is covering your team this week. I have to buy at least two separate services to be able to watch the games, becuz chances are my beloved NFL Giants aren't on any service that I regularly pay for, so I have to pay for another one to watch the game - becuz NFL Network "Blocks" "Local Games" that are literally 250 fucking miles away.
Yeah... the NFL... No. Fucking. Luck. watching a game for free. And even if you do, the commercials will kill you. Is why the audience is dropping like flies. Oh! and Live games? If the tickets don't kill you the $14 price tag for a cold beer will. "Hey, pal, this is the Jersey side of the Hudson, what's with the $14 ??" "They spell it N.F.L."

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

Lookout's picture

No offense to those of you that enjoy football, but I've always equated it with modern day gladiators...and sports in general as war rehearsal. I prefer cooperative activities like playing music and so on. Each to their own.

In my career as a teacher, my yearly salary was equal to about three pitches by an average MLB player. Our priorities are a little warped wouldn't you say?

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16 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

dkmich's picture

I would hate to think it was because of their boycott. I wouldn't want any of the brain deads to win squat.

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4 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

@dkmich Back when Papa John was doing his whining about their revenue being down because of knees, I read something that NFL ratings were down even before the protests. I should have bookmarked it. Of course, they’re going to blame everything on the protests no matter what. It’s just too easy and hell, maybe they can get some government handouts to make up for their losses.

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7 users have voted.
ZimInSeattle's picture

more Bronco fans in attendance than Cardinal fans. It seems to me real life is catching up and taking attention away from past times. Fewer and fewer people can afford to go to an NFL game.

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9 users have voted.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK | Bernie would have WON!

Having lived in San Diego, I remember they had a fair amount of support there. I remember a big boisterous crowd endlessly doing the wave at a monday night Chargers game that I went to. I'm not sure if I feel the same way about the team I grew up with, the Oakland Traitors, after being jacked around by them so much as a fan and Oakland tax payer.

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6 users have voted.

Beware the bullshit factories.

Pluto's Republic's picture

And manages to prey and commodify everyone it touches. What good has come out of this sport?

Since the 1980's the NFL has blackmailed cities into giving them tax breaks, guaranteed attendance contracts, and public-financed stadiums.

The predatory influence of for-profit sports is on display in college and universities, as well. Big-payoff competetive sports has blown out city, county, and state budgets across the nations, while giving nothing back to education. They've sucked up sorely needed university endowments, as well. Windfall profits lavished on the greedy few has brought serious debt in every state. Behold, American priorities.

high-pay-jobs.jpg

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9 users have voted.
EdMass's picture

@Pluto's Republic

Yeah there is $ in football.

But what sport do you like? Has any not been compromised by Capitalism?

Is there no hope?

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1 user has voted.

"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

Alvin Lee - Ten Years After

Stop the War!

pricing

Rock-bottom pricing is not what that collection of billionaires had in mind for the nation’s second-largest market.

The Chargers announced Wednesday that their new home will feature more than 26,000 seats priced between $50 and $90 per ticket, plus a personal seat license fee of $100. By comparison, the least expensive Rams seat license is 10 times that.

So that means if the Chargers sell all their seat licenses for the top third of the stadium — money that goes to the staggering construction costs — they will generate a one-time amount of $2.6 million, or about the annual salary of a middle-of-the-road kicker.

No question, ticket affordability is great. Fans rightly will applaud inexpensive seats, especially in a league where the prices can be absurd. But pricing their tickets so low is an admission: The Chargers don’t move the needle in L.A.

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5 users have voted.
hecate's picture

baseball was "America's Pastime," but then the Americans decided it was stupid and boring, and moved over to the football. Now they are wearying of that. When somebody like Tom Brady goes on the television, drooling like a banjo player from the CTE, that will further hasten its demise. All things must pass.

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4 users have voted.
EdMass's picture

Y'a see the fan fervor is on fantasy football and pickem sites (like Yahoo Sports) and good ole betting straight up. This is why the NFL has relented on betting on games FanDuel, DraftKings, Network Sport sites that carry NFL games.

They (me) don't care to spend $100s to attend a game. Or watch a whole game on TV, usually gerrymandered so you can't watch the game you want because it's broadcast in another region.

It's either DirectTV and all games and constantly switching or the NFLs own Redzone Channel where you only see what happens when a team gets into the Redzone. I pay $10 / month for 5 months to get Redzone and I get to make my own chili and Bloody Marys. No commercials. Engaging and excited host and you don't have to slog through the crap of most games.

My brother in law and I are neck and neck with an Electric Smoker going to the winner at the end of the season.

Now that's football.

Oh btw, teams always pipe in fan noise in practice especially when going to Seattle or Kansas City...

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4 users have voted.

"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

Alvin Lee - Ten Years After

Stop the War!

@EdMass

Oh btw, teams always pipe in fan noise in practice especially when going to Seattle or Kansas City.

Teams always do that when they are going on the road.
Only the Chargers do it for home games.

As for fantasy football and betting, sure it's a big thing.
But does the NFL get any revenue from it?

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EdMass's picture

@gjohnsit

BREAKING DOWN THE NFL’S BILLION DOLLAR BENEFITS FROM LEGALIZED SPORTS BETTING

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3 users have voted.

"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

Alvin Lee - Ten Years After

Stop the War!

EdMass's picture

@gjohnsit

LAC can't even fill their stadium, so it's let's pretend that LA cares about the Chargers and pipe in crowd noise that isn't there to pump them up during practice? LA barely care about the Rams, and both San Diego and St Louis are still pissed.

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2 users have voted.

"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

Alvin Lee - Ten Years After

Stop the War!

@EdMass recently at an opera in Columbus OH. A couple had 2 houses: one in Palos Verdes and the other here in central ohio. It took them 4 hours to get to a show in LA. That was one way.

Along with everything else, congestion also is a problem

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1 user has voted.