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Volume 24 No. 112

Franchises

NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart yesterday said the league and officials from the Rams and Chargers "remain confident" about the L.A. market moving forward despite the amount of empty seats at the teams' games Sunday, according to Lindsay Jones of USA TODAY. Lockhart said the league is confident L.A. can "support in a very strong way two franchises, and we’re committed to making that happen as we work toward the opening of the new stadium." Jones noted the Chargers "failed to sell out their first home game in the StubHub Center," a 27,000-seat MLS stadium, while the Rams "announced an official attendance of 56,612" for their home game against the Redskins at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The Chargers’ ticket struggles are "especially notable, given the small size of the StubHub Center, the gamble the team took on hoping fans from San Diego and Orange County would follow the team after the relocation and the strong presence of visiting fans during the home opener" against the Dolphins, a team "not known for a massive West Coast fan base" (USATODAY.com, 9/18). NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson said, "The fact that the Chargers could not even sellout a 27,000-seat MLS soccer stadium should be a concern for the NFL.” NBC Sports Bay Area's Ray Ratto: "Los Angeles, which was going to be a river of gold for everybody, has turned into a disaster" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 9/18). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt noted there are "several massive issues" in play, including the fact that L.A. is a "city of transplants." The "far bigger problem is it is not a city full of Rams or Chargers fans" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/19).

WINNING CHANGES EVERYTHING: ESPN's Chris Mortensen said the "feeling is you have to win" to get fans to attend games in L.A., which is "going to be a tough market." ESPN's Adam Schefter said the Rams "think things will improve" on the attendance front after the move into the new Inglewood stadium in '20. A new venue "often attracts crowds," and the team is "confident in L.A. the same thing will happen" ("OTL," ESPN, 9/18). Ratto said, "The Lakers are the only bad team, in my memory, in L.A. that fans have supported unreservedly. They still sell out. ... There are not empty seats at Laker games. There have been empty seats at USC games because ultimately L.A. fans want to see a winner. If they don't get a winner, they're not going to go to the games" ("The Happy Hour,” NBCS Bay Area, 9/18).

IS THIS CARSON OR CENTURY CITY? ESPN's Mike Greenberg noted that people are "piling on with the attendance troubles" the Chargers are having, but parking around StubHub Center is $100. Greenberg: "Could they possibly get it less from an optic standpoint?" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/19).

New England's five major sports teams -- the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins and Revolution -- later this month will join forces for a PSA "featuring athletes calling on fans to take a stand against racism and hate speech at sports venues," according to a front-page piece by Adrian Walker of the BOSTON GLOBE. Each team has "agreed to prominently play the video in their venues." Dubbed “Take the Lead,” the project is an "effort to use the influence of the area’s sports teams ... to lead a discussion on an issue that Boston has struggled to confront head-on." After an incident involving Orioles CF Adam Jones at Fenway Park in May, Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy began meeting with state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan for "guidance on addressing racist behavior in the ballpark." The three "quickly agreed that the area’s other sports teams should be brought into the discussion." The group also met with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to "discuss their plans." Sullivan: “We thought it would be incredibly powerful for this initiative to include not just the Red Sox but all of our professional sports teams. Because this was not just an issue involving the Red Sox and Fenway Park.” Walker notes the video will be "shown regularly at all the teams’ venues," and the program will include "other initiatives." The activists advising the teams have also "called on them to examine their internal efforts at diversity, beginning with their senior management and front office staffs, to which they say the franchises have been receptive." The teams will "unveil the beginning of their project" at a Fenway Park event on Sept. 28 (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/19).