Are you ready for some football?
Now, NFL fans can see pro players up close and personal at training camps in August. The Los Angeles Rams will hold training camp at UCI for the second summer in a row. Practices will be open to the public on 15 separate dates from July 29 to Aug. 17. Select players, determined by position, will be made available to sign autographs at the end of each open session. This is the second year of a three-year deal between the Rams and UCI under which the university is being paid about $10 million.
The newly relocated Los Angeles Chargers will hold training camp in Costa Mesa July 30 to Aug. 22 at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. All 13 Chargers practices are open to the public and free-of-charge, but fans are encouraged to reserve free bleacher seating passes – available on a first-come, first-served basis. Official parking is available for $10 at the OC Fair and Events Center at the Gate 3 parking lot off Fairview Drive.
Parking is valid for the entire day should fans want to attend the OC Fair following practice. There will also be a dedicated location for rideshare service drop-off and pick-up adjacent to Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
The Rams and Chargers will hold a joint practice on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 4:30 p.m. at UCI, for those that want to see both teams at once, perhaps in order to choose which SoCal team to support in the coming season.
Many of us already have teams we love (go Steelers!), based on where we grew up, family connections to franchises and other factors. And others feel strongly that SoCal doesn’t need, and won’t support, two teams. Complaints about having the networks being contractually obligated to showing Rams and/or Chargers games on Sundays are common, versus when we had no teams the region often got the best game of the week. But that’s what the NFL Ticket package is for, anyway. Or sports bars that show all the games.
We think the Chargers missed a marketing gold mine by not re-naming the team the SoCal Chargers. Think of all the fans in OC and the IE (not to mention San Diego) who might have bonded with a team that identified with the entire region, rather than the largest city in it? Especially with the abbreviation “SC.”
That being said, it seems as if the Chargers are making the strongest effort to claim unaffiliated OC fans. The team’s headquarters is in Costa Mesa. Until the grand new Hollywood Park stadium the Chargers and Rams will share is built, the Chargers will play in Carson at the StubHub Center, which is closer than the Rams who play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. StubHub only holds 30,000 fans (it’s a soccer stadium), and is sold out for the first season.
The accepted wisdom is that there’s so much to do in OC that we’ll only get excited about a winning team. If that’s so, the Chargers seem to be closer to that status than the Rams.
Not that one could tell by last year’s records. The then-San Diego Chargers were 5-11, last place in the AFC West. The L.A. Rams were 4-12, good for second-to-last place in the NFC West. Both teams hired new coaches during the past off-season; the Chargers brought in Anthony Lynn and the Rams added Sean McVay.
The Chargers averaged 25.6 points per game last year, ninth-highest in the NFL, while the Rams have spent each of the last two seasons dead last in average yards.
There will be three games this season where the Rams and Chargers play at the same time and on the same day at home. On week 2, week 14 and week 17, the Rams and Chargers will both be at home and playing in the 1 p.m. or 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time slot.
As far as forging ties to OC and Irvine, the Los Angeles Chargers recently announced a multi-year partnership with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, a member of the St. Joseph Hoag Health Alliance, as the team’s ‘Official Health Care Partner.’
In addition, the Chargers’ Costa Mesa facility, comprised of nearly 102,000 square feet of interior space and an adjacent 3.2 acre parcel of land for its training and practice fields, will be named the Hoag Performance Center.
Under the partnership Hoag and Hoag Orthopedic Institute will provide the Chargers with comprehensive health care by nationally recognized physicians who are specially trained and experienced in caring for professional athletes.
Hoag Orthopedic Institute (HOI) is located in Orange County. It consists of a specialty hospital located in Irvine and two ambulatory surgery centers: Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County in Newport Beach and Main Street Specialty Surgery Center in Orange.