Franchise movement is nothing new in this modern era of professional sports.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times did the math, and there have been 24 major franchise moves in the last 40 years – nine of them have been NFL teams. Two of those moves have come in the last two offseasons, with the Rams leaving St. Louis and Chargers ditching San Diego, both bound for Los Angeles. And another move looms as the Raiders will reportedly soon file to depart Oakland in favor of Las Vegas.
The NFL’s plan to bring football to Los Angeles has been a success, even though the teams coming in aren’t all that familiar with being successful. The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003 or made the playoffs since 2004, while the Chargers have one postseason appearance in the last seven years.
The Chargers join a Rams franchise that struggled with attendance and a stadium that appeared to have more empty seats than fans in attendance in their return to California. It isn’t hard to imagine the Chargers facing those same hurdles. Franchise Quarterback Philip Rivers (who will play in his age 36 season in 2017) and all-time great tight end Antonio Gates (37 in 2017) aren’t getting any younger, and the team’s best player – Melvin Gordon – plays a position that on average has the shortest career length.
Over at Pro Football Weekly, Eric Olson asks a question that deserves a deeper dive: “Would the Bears feel a little more pressure to get their act together if they had a cross-town rival playing winning football?”
Olson takes a stand and makes a strong case for Chicago being the next city with two NFL teams. And not just because it could conceivably light a fire under the Bears, either.
From a fan perspective, Olson notes that a second NFL team would bring football to the city every weekend in the fall and winter – much like the White Sox and 2016 World Series champion Cubs do in the spring, summer and into early fall. Further, a new team could mean a new stadium for the city, or the suburbs. And while Olson doesn’t outline who would be responsible for financing a new building, benefits like being able to host a Super Bowl, Final Four, year-round concerts, and events in a state-of-the-art complex is intriguing.
Soldier Field is a Chicago institution, but it also is one of the smallest NFL venues (nearly 20,000 seats smaller than the largest). Perhaps a new team in town would inspire the Bears to move into the new millennium and build a stadium worthy of hosting a team in a top-five market.
This isn’t the first – nor will it be the last – time someone throws Chicago’s name into the ring when it comes to getting another NFL franchise. In 2009, Mayor Richard M. Daley said he wanted a second football team, and would go on to tell David Kaplan of CSN Chicago in 2012 (this time as former mayor) he believed that Chicago should be awarded a second NFL team. Fast forward to 2016, and you have Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh asking about a second team in Chicago.
As long as the NFL exhibits a trend of moving teams into bigger markets it believes can support two professional football teams, Chicago will be mentioned as a possible relocation candidate until the day a second team comes.