The Los Angeles Chargers Have a Website, Would Like $100
The San Diego Chargers are now the Los Angeles Chargers! If that statement fails to excite you, wait until you see their depressing-as-hell new website.
When you see the website. Photo by Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
If the organization that was until recently known as the San Diego Chargers must exist, then there must be a website. The first part of that sentence is by no means a given; must is a big word, and the most powerful argument for the Chargers' continued existence for some time has been "pretty sure they were in the league last year, so." But that is the argument that everyone has been working with, and if it wasn't quite persuasive enough to convince taxpayers to spend $1.15 billion to keep the Chargers in San Diego, it has been enough to keep the Chargers in the NFL
Now they are moving to Los Angeles, and while basically no one involved can quite find a way to give a shit about that—and despite the lack of compelling evidence that Los Angeles wants even one NFL team, let alone two—someone in the Chargers organization was at least able to pull together a website about all this. And it is no exaggeration to say that the website for the Los Angeles Chargers is very much The Los Angeles Chargers Of Websites.
Most people know Ray Lewis as a great NFL linebacker, possible accessory to capital murder, and a man who blinks only nine times per year. But, as the first words that you will see on the Chargers' new website demonstrate, Lewis is also one of the most influential literary stylists in sports. As the leader of some very good Baltimore Ravens teams, Lewis became famous as an inspirational speaker, delivering loud and completely circular feats of ad-libbed berserker oratory. While inarguably successful in getting Terrell Suggs all geeked up to go beat the Buffalo Bills, Lewis's language tends to work less well on the page, as demonstrated by the steroidal koan that greets you on the Chargers' site.
"LA is people and places and passion and pride." We might as well imagine Lewis blaring, tears in his eyes and giant cables of vein standing out in his neck. "Any respect given must be earned." To those of us who do not live in Los Angeles, this could look like empty rhetoric. People in Los Angeles, though, will recognize it as more than that. They will see it for what it is, because they know the people and places and passion and pride of Los Angeles, or at least are aware that the city has both people and places in it. They will know that in Los Angeles, unique among American cities, no one is automatically treated with respect. They will read this and think, maybe, This is what it would be like if Al Pacino's Inches Speech from 'Any Given Sunday' was translated into and out of a foreign language six or so times. But they will also think, This is us. Then they'll scroll down.
The Chargers will be playing their first two seasons in Carson's StubHub Center, which is currently home to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. It's small, by NFL standards, with a capacity of around 30,000. That is why the website urges fans to put down a refundable $100 deposit on season tickets. It's worth noting that this deposit does not strictly guarantee the depositor tickets. But it is also worth noting that it is refundable. The website notes both.
By all reports, the StubHub Center is a fine place to watch a soccer game, boxing match, or concert. It was designed with all of those things in mind, which is why part of the stadium opens onto a grassy hill. Most NFL stadiums are not like this, and were designed primarily to make sour drunks in replica jerseys walk the longest distances possible. The Chargers website is quick to address the concerns that NFL fans, who are used to a particular type of experience, might have.
It's hard to know if the sort of people who go to NFL games—hair-trigger binge drinkers, mostly, and sometimes their kids—will find this soothing, but the site quickly moves on to the Hollywood Park stadium that the Chargers will be sharing with the Los Angeles Rams. The renderings are lush and full-color here, as the site describes a thoroughly modern facility that will provide fans the opportunity to take those long circular walks they enjoy, in a space with the character and charm generally associated with Central European airports.
OK, I can't really do this anymore. The whole website echoes with the same bleak, bottomless bluffing as Kirk Van Houten showing Homer Simpson around his depressing bachelor pad, and the vibe throughout is somewhere between abject and just kind of bummed-out. The Chargers would rather not be in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles is not necessarily feeling that great about the whole thing, either. In a league that is working its grim way through a depressive episode of its own, this still stands out for its bleakness. The letter from Chargers owner and chairman Dean Spanos to the city's fans, for instance, has all the optimism and energy of a statement that a defendant might read in court before getting sentenced for a DUI. The whole thing is something more than sad; it is without purpose, and well aware of its own superfluousness. There is a broader and deeply dispiriting metaphor to be drawn, here—several, really—but I'm bummed out enough by the patios and the People And Places And Passion to just let it go.
There is no way for a website to be sad, really, not any more than a vacuum cleaner can be bored or a blender can experience disgust. These are just objects, things that people make because we have decided not to live with filthy carpets or without pesto. But people can feel those emotions, and as we use those objects, we fill them and empty them with our lives; they change as a result of this. Here, per ESPN's Seth Wickersham, is a description of the Chargers present situation: "It was sad and dire and unprecedented in Roger Goodell's decade as commissioner: An owner unwillingly moving a team to a city that doesn't seem to want it, sharing a stadium with an owner, Stan Kroenke, who doesn't want to split it, witnessed and engineered by a group of owners whose sympathy only goes so far." The Chargers new website is built out of code and made of words and images and the promise of sun-drenched patios. But it is filled with the ambient dejection that hangs around the Chargers. It is, in every way, theirs.