Having just returned from an 8-day road swing through California (6 days in L.A., 2 in San Diego), having explored large parts of L.A. from the coast through to the valley (convienently leaving aside Compton, Crenshaw, South Central L.A., and a few other Wire-ific spots), and having seen what makes L.A. tick from the perspective of somebody with an East Coast Bias, I now present to you the reasons that lead to what I now understand - that the NFL just won't survive in Los Angeles. It's not for any one of these reasons alone. All of them have some play in it:
1) UCLA, USC
Long before the NFL ever arrived, there was college football in L.A.. The college sports scene is as actively followed in L.A. as it is in Columbus, Lincoln, or Tuscaloosa. USC stories lead the sports section, with the Dodgers and Angels a close second. USC players like Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are celebs in the town. UCLA has thousands of alums in the L.A. basin who follow Bruins athletics religiously. The two teams each routinely play in front of sold-out crowds in 100,000+ seat stadiums (Bruins in Rose Bowl, Trojans in Coliseum). The season is shorter (three months as opposed to four months) and there are generally only six home games instead of ten (including the preseason), which appeals to the shorter attention span of L.A. sports fans. The combined support for these two teams strongly eclipses and draws away from the potential support for any future pro team.
The only way that L.A. could support an NFL team is to build a new stadium. The land is there. Apparently some 600 acres 20 miles east of L.A. form the site for a proposed stadium. But what people not from L.A. don't necessarily realize is that there is really no such thing as a centralized downtown L.A. The metropolitan area has millions of people spread out over large neighborhoods. L.A. is separated by the hills and there are the parts of L.A. west and south of the hills (downtown, Sunset Strip, Venice), and there are the parts of it east and north of the hills (Studio City, Burbank, Pasadena, Calabasas). For those east and north of the hills, there would at least possibly be some back roads to take to the stadium. For those west and south of the hills, crossing the hills and avoiding the roads through the canyons that are one lane in each direction necessarily involves taking one of L.A.'s notorious freeways. There are no plans to extend public transportation to the proposed site of the stadium which wouldn't matter anyway because nobody would take it (see #3 below).
3) The culture
The one thing that I took away from my trip to L.A. is that the most important thing to gain status in L.A. is not just to have money - but it's just as important to show people that you have that money to spend. That's one reason why BMW's, Acuras, Mercedes, Lexi, Escalades, Hummers, and other brands of luxury cars seem to flood the L.A. roads at a way higher per capita rate than any other place I've ever visited in the country. That's one reason why public transportation just isn't an option for Los Angelians despite gas being near $4.75/gallon - they want to be seen driving.
Now let's compare football to basketball and baseball. In basketball and baseball, there are a limited number of premium seats. And in those courtside seats or in those seats in the front row behind home plate, you are visible to everyone else in the venue. You're guaranteed to be on the Jumbotron. The folks at US Weekly, People, and TMZ have an easy time snapping your picture to show you out relaxing the week your movie is set to premiere.
Let's think football for a moment... the most premium seats are either skyboxes where you are hidden from sight, or about halfway up the lower deck at the 50 yard-line, where you'd just blend into the crowd. No celeb wants to blend into the crowd. That's why despite the fact that all of the L.A. hotspots have dedicated back entrances for celebs to avoid the paparazzi (yes, I plunked down a lot of money at Koi and The Ivy among other places), on most occasions, celebs opt to go in and out the front door, knowing full well they are going to be crushed by a blinding array of flash bulbs popping.
Simply put, the demand won't be there for the premium seats because while they might be nice for an exec or an agent to be able to wield to talent, what the talent really wants is to be part of the scene. And you can't really be part of the scene at an NFL game because the scene at an NFL game is what's going on on the field during the game and in the parking lots before the game. It's very seldomly who's in the stands. So in other words, those who will be spending money on the premium seats won't necessarily stand out doing so. And that defeats the very notion of what is most important to many Los Angelians, particularly those in the entertainment industry.
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1) Don't bring dress slacks or socks. Nobody in L.A. wears these, even to a place like Koi where dinner will set you back way more than you ever want to spend. The look is "shabby sheik." [J-Red's note: I'm leaving this in. Obviously he meant shabby chic, but his way is funnier.] I'm not kidding you. At many exclusive restaurants (Koi), you'll blend in way more in $400 tapered jeans, a fitted t-shirt and flip flops than you will in khakis and a polo shirt. Don't try to wear shorts out though to a club or nice restaurant. Gotta be jeans.
2) Hit Barney's Beanery just off Sunset. There's a reason why it's Adam Sandler's favorite bar and the favorite bar of just about every transplanted East Coaster out there. Cheap pitchers of beer, an awesome jukebox, tons of TVs showing every sports game, and air hockey, foosball, and old school video games.
3) Bring money for valet. Since everybody drives their cars, most parking lots after 8pm, even a parking lot at a simple strip mall, become valet so that more jobs are created seemingly. This is about the only rationale I can have for it. Some places I get. The shopping center parking lot where Katsu-ya is? Yes, it's Justin Timberlake's sushi go-to spot. Have valet available if I want it. Don't make me pay $5 so you can park my car for me.
4) Don't take a picture of celebs when you cross their paths. Better to observe them in their natural habitats. And it's way harder to spot a celeb in person in their natural habitat than you might think because damn near everybody in L.A. dresses glam. At various times on my trip I saw Nancy O'Dell, Nas, Billy Walsh from Entourage, the youngest kid from Home Improvement, and Goldie Hawn. Only Goldie Hawn stuck out and that's because she happened to be wearing a big white hat on the beach in Malibu so that our attention was drawn to look at the woman wearing the funny hat. The funny thing is I'm certain that at The Ivy, Koi, Barney's, and in Malibu, along the Sunset Strip, and at various other times I was in the presence of celebs. Really, they just sort of blend in. They don't all have giant flocks of paparazzi around them.
5) Watch the late Sportscenter as you're going to sleep and appreciate that there are no games that are just getting underway as you're going to sleep. All the scores are in, all the news of the day is wrapped. Turn on the TV just once for a live event like the NBA Draft and realize how funny it is that it's nighttime where the event is taking place and you just got back from the afternoon at the beach.
6) Get iced coffee from The Coffee Bean. Starbucks better pray that The Coffee Bean doesn't spread to the East Coast. Their monopoly already got crushed in the Northeast by Dunkin' Donuts.