Same Old Hooker, Same Old Tricks

So it looks like it will be a while before Los Angeles can get its political act together and lure an NFL team here.  The latest attempt by Anschutz Entertainment Group was on the fast-track until the venerable Los Angeles Coliseum – the place Art Modell refers to as the "old hooker",  reared its ugly head.  Faced with the Coliseum Commission's unexpected re-emerge to complicate things, AEG has taken its ball and gone home.

 

LA gets a bad rap when it comes to the NFL.  But when folks talk about how Los Angeles fans will not embrace an NFL team, you have to look deeper than the clichés of recent headlines.  The Los Angeles Coliseum is a beautiful, historic structure, reminiscent of the near-ancient grandeur of old Cleveland Stadium. It is a fantastic place to watch a football game.  My wife and I, both former Clevelanders, have attended many games there. No, the problem with the Coliseum is not the building, it's the neighborhood, the parking, and the dark Raider culture that made it a miserable and dangerous place for visiting fans to find themselves.

 

Imagine arriving a little late for the game on Sunday and finding the only available parking is on a someone's lawn straight out of the movie Boyz in the Hood.  There are some good places to eat along the way, but it's still foreign territory.  You scurry into the stadium complex and are struck by the beauty of the structure. You settle in for the game, glad to be in an area with controlled security.

 

That day, there were about 3000 Browns fans attending the Browns-Raiders game one September Sunday in 1993.  Eric Metcalf returned two punts for touchdowns.  The Browns won 19-16, and we celebrated in respectable muted bellows.  Even though we were on our best behavior, getting out was an ugly scene if you had any Cleveland merchandise on. It seemed that menacing characters were turning up every 30 steps. One fan told me that several Browns fans were assaulted at the Coliseum after a Browns game a few years earlier.  Fortunately for us, the car was still there and we escaped to suburbia 12 miles away.

 

 

Even Cleveland can be a bad place for, say, a Pittsburgh fan, but there is a difference in feel. Even I once got  punched in the Dog Pound after a game, but I don't remember why (so I probably had it coming). Jerks are jerks everywhere. But it was different at Raiders games, and that alienated an army of displaced fans.  Fans who end up supporting their favorite teams in other NFL cities.  The Raiders organization has many loyal fans.  It also has more than its share of meatheads.  The Raiders mystique and bad-boy image rubbed off on way too many of its fans.  Most of the people I know were happy to see them leave to Oakland. Good riddance.

 

The fact remains that LA will support its own NFL team, if it can get the capital and politics united.  The Coliseum is a huge stumbling block that the NFL will not consider as a home for a new team.  One way or another, LA citizens will have to deal with the Coliseum's future soon.

 

But as far as new stadiums go, the AEG bid looked like a winner. Scores of new stadiums have been built on the backs of the public funds in other NFL cities including dear-old Cleveland. LA will be much smarter than others – particularly Cleveland – when striking a deal without significant public cost.  It's a bonanza out here.  The NFL wants this very, very badly.

 

Hey, were resigned to it.  Hopefully it will be AFC team so the Browns can come through here every now and again.  And even if they get none of my tax dollars, we'll still end up having to buy those darned PSLs.

 

We'll just wait it out.

 

God f


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