Revenues more valuable to Chargers in L.A. than in San Diego

They won't say it, but it's true. Fans who show up regularly at NFL games are just not as important as they used to be.

That's why it doesn't really matter if there are many people sitting in the seats when the Rams and Chargers play in the fall of 2019.

At least they're in Los Angeles, where the most important local revenue will be suites and club seats sold to companies and rich individuals who buy just to be there should it one day become the place to be, whether people attend or not.

The importance of selling tickets to regular fans has diminished in recent years. Out of the four major leagues, it's the least important in the NFL, thanks to each team getting more than $250 million a year in shared money that comes mostly from national TV deals.

And that's why being in the most valuable market in the United States, even if the team is terrible, is more important.

The cost to buy in is pennies on the dollar. For the L.A. market, the Chargers have to put up no up-front money, have a $1 a year lease and are expected to pay the $550 million relocation fee over 10 years.

Some critics point out that the Spanos family, including Chargers chairman Dean Spanos, could have put that $550 million into a stadium in San Diego and stayed put instead. But this much is clear, having a team with the same record in Los Angeles is much more valuable than having that team in San Diego.

No, we don't know the terms, which have already been agreed to, as to how the split of revenue will work in the new Inglewood, California stadium starting in the 2019 season, but it's a safe bet to assume that shared revenues in Los Angeles are worth more than having to split with no one in San Diego.

Just like the Jets and the Giants have sold high-end suites to corporations who get the right to entertain clients for an NFL game every week of the season, the Rams and the Chargers will benefit from the same deal.

And whether they show up or not doesn't matter, as it does in places like Buffalo and Jacksonville, where corporate dollars can more greatly be tied to winning and losing and having actual butts in the seats.

Owning a team is often seen as a public trust. All moves that owners make are felt in the communities where they play. But, especially in the NFL, these communities have been compromised by the national success of the sport with the TV money as the driver. The blue-collar fan literally isn't worth what he or she once was. Which is exactly why picking up and leaving is easier than ever before, which is why NFL teams have done it nine times in the past four decades, more than any other league.

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