Chivas Wants Me for a Sunbeam

So someone else has hit one of my hobbyhorses - the Galaxy aren't as popular as they should be.  Far from it.  I've been tedious about the topic many times before, so I'll spare you details. But I wonder about the fans who are ignoring this year's team.  What on earth are they waiting for?  Do they really think they're going to be this good every year? 

I still blame two things - six years wasted marketing to Beckham moths, and Chivas USA.  If I may quote myself briefly, from 2013:

Chivas USA sucks.  When it comes right down to it, Chivas USA and the Galaxy are selling the exact same product at the exact same place.  When Chivas USA sells tainted horsemeat with e.coli and rat paws in their burgers, it's not going to make customers hungry for a Quarter Galaxy with Cheese.  Especially if the Galaxy is priced ten times as high as the Goat on a Shingle.  I've called the Galaxy/Chivas USA dynamic a negative feedback loop before, and in fairness the Galaxy have pulled out of their doldrums of the Yallop era.  But there's good, and there's good in comparison, and Chivas USA is the kind of wingman that gives dives a bad name.

There's also a finite amount of coverage in the media for two soccer teams, especially in Crazytown.  It would be nice if each outlet sent a separate guy to follow each team, and gave them both the same amount of attention.  It would also be nice if dogs crapped rainbows.  When an outlet devotes even the minimal time and space to a partial-birth oil spill like Chivas USA, those inches/minutes aren't coming out of the Lakers' time.

Well, now Chivas USA is at death's door, knocking loudly.  I had thought briefly that there would be a devil-may-care, damn-the-torpedoes approach to this season, but it turns out the devil's torpedoes don't miss very often. 

I don't think MLS will shut the team down, even temporarily, because it's such a bad look for a league expanding so quickly.  Also, I don't think the players' union would be thrilled to see so many jobs up and disappear, at a time when the league is doing anything but pleading poverty. 

After spending ten years wishing ill on Chivas USA and all its works, it's probably bad form for me to say a second MLS team in Los Angeles can never work.  However, Los Angeles is never going to use public money for a stadium.  AEG couldn't get a stadium built downtown, other attempts to build new stadiums for the NFL foundered.  (For our younger readers, the NFL used to be a very popular league which played a variant of rugby.)  Maybe the economy will keep crashing enough to make downtown sites more feasible, but let's assume no one is considerate enough to detonate an EMP over the Convention Center.

Chivas USA has also spent the past ten years flirting with peripheries like Pomona and Santa Ana.  This was understandable, maybe even wise - AEG didn't pick Carson because it was Phil Anschutz's boyhood home, after all.  I think they need to follow through on that, and finally come to peace with moving to the Inland Empire.

For those of you outside Southern California, the Inland Empire is defined as Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario.  There are a little bit more than four million people there - it's very much the junior partner of Greater Los Angeles, but then so is Orange County, and they have big time professional sports there.

I did my lazy Wikipedia scholarship, and found that the biggest metro areas without a US pro sports team are Tokyo, Seoul, Karachi, Shanghai, and Delhi.  Then I thought it might be helpful to limit my search to actual American and Canadian cities.  And then, naturally, I thought, wait, I'm pretty sure we have Canada covered, let's limit this to America, shall we?

You're probably way ahead of me on this, but the Inland Empire is tied with Detroit (four major pro teams and a Big 10 powerhouse nearby) in 12th place, just ahead of Phoenix (four major pro teams and a Pac 12 sorta-powerhouse or two nearby) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (four major pro teams and, well, the Golden Gophers).  The competition for the Inland Empire sports dollar is currently contested between four minor league baseball teams.

In fact, if we stroll down the list, we don't see another metro area free from the scourge of pro team sports until Las Vegas.  Vegas has about half as many people as the Inland Empire. 

Inland Empire subjects aren't going to spend their tax money for a stadium more than any other Californian, but land isn't as expensive as trying to build a stadium in LA county. 

Now, if I'm smart enough to spot all this, why haven't actual investors?  Partly because there's not really an actual downtown city there, so it gets ignored a lot.  It's also very unfashionable by California standards, and in fact not particularly chic even by Arkansas standards. 

But if the alternative is to shut the team down, or turn it into a USL-PRO team, why not instead let the Inland Empire serve as an interim market?  Let the fans audition.  If it flops, well, the 66ers and the Storm and the Quakes (different Quakes) can have their fans back.  If it succeeds, you have a market of four million all to yourselves.  Plus the couple hundred Chivas USA fans who are willing to make the drive and aren't cursing MLS with every fiber of their beings.

The alternative is, of course, to trade them to St. Louis in exchange for the Rams.  (I read somewhere - I forget where - that you're supposed to keep sheep and goats separate.)