Book it: Los Angeles will greet NFL with open arms

In a recent column that appeared on Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback blog, writer Emily Kaplan randomly canvassed 100 Los Angeles residents to gauge their interest in the NFL finally returning to L.A.

As you know, the NFL is contemplating two Los Angeles area stadiums projects with attachment to three teams, and could decide by the end of 2015 what two teams relocate to Los Angeles and where they will play.

The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have teamed up to build a stadium in Carson, and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is pushing his own project 14 miles away in Inglewood. As early as 2016, one or two teams could be calling Los Angeles home.

With that in mind, Kaplan took to the streets to figure out just how interested L.A. is in professional football coming back after a 20-year absence.

You can read the story here, but the prevailing sentiment Kaplan encountered upon talking to Angelenos was a lukewarm reaction to the NFL coming back.

Or, as Kaplan wrote:

“We posed (the) question to more than 100 Angelenos from all walks of life. We talked to a struggling actor and an A-list entertainer, a bus driver and a barista, natives and transplants, lawyers and self-described hipsters. We also spoke to people like (Enrique) Urbano, residents of Inglewood and Carson who might have a large, loud tenant moving into their backyards. We found pockets of passionate sports fans who felt jilted by the NFL’s extended absence. But that paled to one overarching theme: apathy.”

A few quote snippets:

“Sports just don’t matter to me,” says Taylor Smith, a 20-year-old actor. “Plus, this is a city built off the entertainment industry. That’s our cultural compass, not sports.”

“Isn’t there already a football team in L.A.?” asks Danielle Johnson, a 22-year-old clothing designer. “No seriously,” she says. “Isn’t there?”

“I love football, don’t get me wrong,” says Marissa Martinez, a 26-year-old waitress. “I was a cheerleader growing up. But I’m fine having watch parties at my house on Sundays. That’s just what I’m used to, and it works, you know?”

You get the idea, right?

Am I surprised?

Absolutely not. Fact is, just like any other city Los Angeles if filled with people who could give a rip about football or sports. It’s not hard finding them, either.

Or as a high-ranking NFL official texted me earlier today: “It reminds me of when Howard Stern sends people out on the street to get people to give him answers to questions. I could send someone on the streets and get the opposite story.”

Am I worried this means L.A. won’t support one or two teams?

Not even the slightest.

There are 21 million people in the greater Los Angeles area – counting L.A., Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. I’d be shocked if 80,000 of them don’t make their way to a stadium 10 or 20 times per season.

More importantly, the NFL and the Raiders, Chargers and Rams know they can generate enough money from PSL’s and other revenue streams to support their privately financed stadiums. In fact, that’s the precise reason they can finance stadiums here in Los Angeles but not in Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis, where significant  public contributions are required.

How do they know this?

They’ve spent money and time canvassing Los Angeles.

Or, as different NFL executive texted me today: “I’m not sure what people think the NFL (and teams involved) are paying (experts) to do. But A LOT of market research has been done.”

I’m not doubting there are plenty of residents that could give a flip about the NFL – or any other sport for that matter. Same can be said for New York, where you can bump into 50 people in Central Park who have no idea who Derek Jeter is, let alone the difference between a New York Jet, Giant, Met or Knick.

And I’m not discounting there are options available to Southern California residents that don’t exists in other markets.

But all anyone has to do is check the attendance figures for any L.A. professional team to understand three million fans support the Dodgers and Angels every season, the Lakers and Clippers are always near capacity each game and the Kings and Galaxy are well supported.

When it comes to fans financially and emotionally investing themselves in their teams, L.A. takes a back seat to no one.