L.A. Mayor Garcetti: Chargers Should Stay in SD

Associated Press
Associated Press

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was “celebrating the Rams” while suggesting the Chargers and Raiders remain in their current cities when he joined ESPN radio on Wednesday.

“I grew up, Rams were my team,” Garcetti told hosts Andy Katz and Rick Klein. “Some of the fondest memories I have are of the Los Angeles Rams.”

Garcetti remarked that after almost two decades of negotiations with the NFL, L.A. was finally able to get a team back. He went on to say the league needed L.A. more than the city needed the league.

“It was definitely a standoff with the league for 20 years, we kinda said, ‘Hey, you need us more than we need to subsidize you,’” Garcetti said.

The NFL’s 32 owners voted to approve the Rams’ return to the L.A. market from St Louis at a January 12 meeting in Houston. Of two proposed stadium projects, the Rams’ project in the Inglewood area of L.A. that was given the green light. The Chargers were also given a one-year option to consider joining the Rams in Inglewood. If the Chargers choose not to exercise that option, the Raiders will have the same opportunity. Both the Chargers and Raiders have been offered $100 million from the NFL to remain in their current home cities.

Recently the Chargers filed for a trademark for the Los Angeles Chargers, according to one of the hosts. Garcetti was asked for his reaction and what he thought about the potential of having a second team in the L.A. market.

“It’s great just to have one team before we just into a second,” Garcetti replied. “I’d like to see those home markets first now get a really good play at trying to keep their teams.”

The mayor repeatedly told listeners how happy he is to be getting the Rams back in L.A. “I’m just celebrating the Rams right now,” he said before calling Chargers owner Dean Spanos a friend.

“I only half-jokingly said that the crime has gone down every single year since the Raiders left L.A. though, so we gotta be careful,” Garcetti told listeners. The comment was strange, given that the Rams and Raiders both left L.A. in 1994.

Garcetti was asked to give advice to mayors of other cities hoping to obtain or retain a professional sports team.

“Don’t be so desperate for a sports franchise that you put your city in debt for decades,” Garcetti told ESPN listeners. “We’ve seen too many people, too many taxpayers footing the bill for stadiums that go on for decades taking away from precious city services.”

He went on to lobby his fellow mayors to consider the “urban planning” around a stadium project that makes sports a part of everyday life of the city integrating transit links, housing and shopping.

The host remarked that the Raiders at least have a footprint in L.A., but that L.A. residents “think it’s a little bit of a push to have the Chargers in Los Angeles because they are more of a San Diego team.” He went on to ask Garcetti, “How concerned are you of bringing potentially that other team up there that doesn’t have that natural fanbase that has been there for generations in Los Angeles?”

Garcetti affirmed the existence of Chargers fans in L.A., but that he would “be more than happy to see a great rivalry continue with San Diego Chargers if they can make that work. Otherwise I think it’s a business decision. It might take a couple years to rebrand them. We’d welcome any team and economic development that comes, but I love the idea of a great rivalry in the south so I wish them nothing but the best of luck in the next year with San Diego, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

The Chargers have played in San Diego for over 50 years, spending only their first year in L.A. The Raiders have been in Oakland since leaving L.A. in 1994 after 14 years there. The Rams had been in L.A. 49 years before leaving for St Louis.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana