Exciting sports fiction goes back a long way. In the days of the pulps there were titles like Thrilling Sports and Ace Sports, they were filled with stories like “The Pug in Me” and “The Knock-Em-Down Kid.” Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, was a outstanding high school athlete who had adventures all over the world, including battling super-villains looking to conquer the world (on radio, movie serials and comic books), courtesy of traveling with his Uncle Jim. Polo player Flash Gordo become an interplanetary righter of wrongs, and former boxer Spenser is one of the mystery communities’ most enduring private eyes. Murder has happened on the golf links, the baseball clubhouse and on the tennis court.
But lately I’ve been thinking about football even though the Super Bowl is over and I’ve mostly gotten over that bonehead call by the Seahawks’ coaches that, moat fans are convinced, cost the team a big shiny championship ring. But football is on my mind because movers and shakers in are once again vying to do the “If we build it they will come,” dance. Various groupings of money people are looking to build a state of the art stadium to attract one and maybe two pro teams to play here in the Southland.
At one point the ducks had been lined up to build a new field that included tearing down part of the exiting Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown and erecting the new venue next to the Staples Arena, where pro basketball’s Clippers and Lakers sink the rock. . This was to be called Farmers Field to be built by entertainment giant AEG. The high rollers of AEG made overtures to the NFL bosses to entice a team to relocate, perhaps one that had already been here like the St. Louis Rams – who I grew up watching live — or the Oakland Raiders. That decade-long pursuit has died, while other contenders are now making their desires known.
In Carson, a nearby municipality down the 405 Freeway, the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders have made noise they want to build a joint $1.7 billion stadium there. In Inglewood, another nearby municipality, the owner of the Rams, Stan Kroenke has bought some land and is making noise as if he intends to build a 60-acre, 80,000 seats wonder there if St. Louis won’t lay a new swell stadium on his team there. A dark horse in this sweepstakes is Ed Roski of Majestic Realty who still pines to build his L.A. Stadium in the Southeast area of the county in the City of Industry. On this proposed stadium’s webnsite, they list as a backer of the idea tailgaters associations. I mean, who knows better than tailgaters, right?.
There is an existing stadium in town where the Rams played for decades and the Raiders did too when they came to town and the Rams had moved to Orange County. But the rap supposedly is the neighborhood where the Stadium is, is too dangerous, too ghetto. Mind you, it’s right next door to USC and they play there but whatever.
Just to further muddy the waters, AEG is acting like a petulant rich kid who if they can’t get their way, wants to spoil it for everyone else. Paying for a report spearheaded by the former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, to state, in part about the Inglewood deal which would be near the airport and thus a terrorist target.
The LA Times pointed out this was hogwash as there are several stadiums near airports across the country, like the recently built Levi’s Field in Santa Clara and the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Mystery-wise, and I’ve previously written a noir novel called The Jook about a doomed football player, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that given the completion for securing a tram for your city, the machinations involved and now the enmity AEG is stirring up, Death at the Stadium might be an instant bestseller – at least here in town.