Three’s company in the Coliseum?

first_imgI’ve already decided I don’t have enough room for another football team in my heart. Growing up in Los Angeles during the heyday of the Pete Carroll era, we didn’t need a pro football team. We already had one; it just played on Saturdays.So when the Rams officially committed to moving from St. Louis to L.A., I was excited, but I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. Now, the reports of the San Diego Chargers possibly driving up the 5 to join the Rams for the new stadium plan in Inglewood are getting interesting. As of Monday, the talks between the Chargers and Rams owners had stalled, but the possibility of L.A. hosting two teams is very real and still on the table.As fellow columnist Darian Nourian pointed out last week, this decision is particularly important for USC. While not set in stone just yet, the Rams will almost certainly play in the Coliseum over the next three seasons while the team’s permanent stadium is built in Inglewood. The addition of a second professional team to the mix would have a lot of upside for the University, but could complicate matters for the school as well. Most importantly though, for the sake of USC football’s brand, I think it might actually benefit the Trojans to have a second professional team added to the mix.USC is certainly a football school, but it is nonetheless primarily a school. So one of the biggest factors when evaluating the future of football from the school’s perspective is what the impact of professional games will have on the school’s academic environment.Every other Saturday in the fall, campus essentially shuts down as a school and becomes a sports arena. It’s wonderful, a huge part of the Trojan student experience, but rare enough to be special and significant. Not only will the addition of pro football in L.A. make that a two-day experience on campus, but a pair of pro teams playing in L.A. would make it a weekly occurrence rather than biweekly.Even if school doesn’t allow tailgating directly on campus, parking and traffic will inevitably involve USC facilities, and noise from the stadium certainly won’t be tuned out for the consideration of anyone catching up on schoolwork Sundays.In addition to the noise, the potential wear and tear on the actual facility could also be significant. The Coliseum maintenance crew would have to repaint the grass after every Saturday, and the impact of three times as many games on the facility might force the school to switch from grass to turf. In the grand scheme of things, these probably aren’t major concerns, and there’s probably enough money going around in the deal to make this all go smoothly.In fact, the revenue that this could generate for the University is probably the most significant part. USC recently obtained ownership rights to the stadium, and the revenue from renting out the facility to a pro team could bring in millions annually. The University of Minnesota, for example, made about $3 million this past season from the Minnesota Vikings for the right to play in its stadium while the Vikings renovate their permanent home. Multiply that by two if the Chargers come in, and factor in the land value in Los Angeles is a bit more valuable than in the Twin Cities, and USC could make tens of millions of dollars in just a couple years from this endeavor. Of course, that’s not that much money for an institution that has an endowment of more than $5 billion, and most of the rental fee will go toward the $270 million Coliseum renovation planned for 2018. But any figure with two commas is a big, big number, and it’s probably worth the noise of a couple touchdowns over the loudspeaker heard across campus.For me, though, I think USC should root for the Chargers coming to L.A. as well for the sake of its brand in the city. While the addition of one football team certainly hurts the share of the football market that USC commands, I think adding a second one would put USC back in its place as the city’s football team.The addition of two pro teams to L.A. would show that the move has much more to do with entertainment than actual football. I do know some friends who have officially already declared allegiance to the Rams as their team, which I totally respect. But if a second team came here, the majority of L.A. fans will almost invariably just jump on the bandwagon of whichever team is doing better in the playoffs.The Trojans, on the other hand, already have generations of success under their belt. With strings of national championships in the ’30s, ’70s and 2000s, the Trojan brand has survived through even a recent rough patch where the rival Bruins have surged as a legitimate competitor. Unless UCLA puts together a similar string soon, and over multiple decades, football fans of all ages will still remember USC as the dominant power for years to come.Neither the Chargers nor the Rams would come to L.A. with that legacy of success. They would both still be secure in their most recent cities if they had. Unless one of them emerges as a dominant power in the NFL, rivaling the recent championship runs of the Patriots, Steelers or Giants, Los Angeles will still be USC’s town.Luke Holthouse is a junior majoring in policy, planning and development and broadcast & digital journalism. His column, “Holthouse Party,” runs every other Wednesday.last_img

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