California’s Breakup With the NFL

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StubHub Center is an apt name for the modest soccer stadium-turned NFL foster home for the Los Angeles Chargers. The tiny 27,000-seat stadium, named for a ticket-resale behemoth, has struggled to fill up for the country’s most popular sport.

In the Chargers’ first season back in L.A. after 56 years in San Diego, seats are noticeably empty at kickoff for home games. Many other seats are often filled by boisterous traveling fans of visitors like the Kansas City Chiefs. After a recent game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said it didn’t feel like a home game.

Chargers fans knew that starting over in L.A. wasn’t going to be easy. “We’ve been moved from a city in San Diego that appreciated the team and the players,” said Chad Smith, a Chargers fan at a recent game here.

The Chargers aren’t alone in facing questions about their fan support. All four of California’s teams are struggling with identity crises.

While the Chargers struggle in the L.A. suburb of Carson, where they are domiciled until a permanent home is completed in 2020, the Los Angeles Rams, in their second season backin Southern California, have seen home attendance fall by more than 20,000 per game since last season.

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