Los Angeles 2021 – Sports

In 2028 the LA Memorial Coliseum will become the first stadium to have hosted the Olympic Games 3 times, having previously been the venue for the greatest sports show on the planet in 1932 and 1984.

Perhaps it deserves this accolade because Los Angeles is a sports mad city, a heaven on earth with teams at the highest level representing the city in each of the Big 5 sports in the country: American Football, or ‘catch’ as it should be called, Soccer, or football as it should be called, basketball, baseball and hockey, or ice hockey as it should be called 😊

The city is so large, at around 500 square miles, with a population of around 4 million people, that each sport has 2 teams. It didn’t seem right to visit such a sports mad city and to not write a blog about it and my sporting experiences whilst visiting Los Angeles

American Football

The Chargers and the Rams are the teams that play American football in Los Angeles. Both the Chargers and the Rams play at the SoFi stadium located in Inglewood and the 2021 season runs from 9th September 2021 to 9th January 2022. Unfortunately, our visit in June was during the off season, so we didn’t get the opportunity to see a game.

You can read more about the SoFi stadium and see the fixtures here.

Hockey

Hockey fans have a choice of watching either the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings play at the Staples Centre in Downtown LA, after moving from the Forum in Inglewood in 1999. The Anaheim Ducks play at the Honda Centre in Anaheim. Again our visit was during the off season, so we didn’t get to see either team; the season runs from October to April however this has been subject to change in the 2021 season due to covid restrictions .

Basketball

The Lakers and the Clippers play basketball. The Lakers are the more famous team, but the Clippers are currently the better team, and are in the play-off finals whereas the Lakers were eliminated in the first round. The Clippers did play a big match while we were here, a play-off against the Utah Jazz to clinch a place in the finals, but with few tickets available, and those that were being priced at $600, that was another missed opportunity. That was a shame because the Clippers overturned a 25 point deficit in the 3rd quarter, to win the match very impressively.

Soccer

I was fortunate enough to be able to watch a home match between LA Galaxy and Seatle Sounders at the Dignity Health Stadium, formerly the Home Depot stadium, (same place, different sponsors). I took advantage of the Galaxy Express park and ride system, driving to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, leaving my car there and getting on a free bus to the ground. Tickets for the match and parking, can be accessed via an app called AXS, if you prefer to pay $20 upfront to reserve a parking spot. Tickets seemed to start at around $30 for a back row seat, with an increase of $2 per each row nearer the front. I paid $60 for my ticket.

The Galaxy have an impressive list of former players, the best known of which is arguably David Beckham, and they honour this with a statue of him outside the ground.

Other big shirt name sellers include Robbie Keane and Zlatan Ibrahimović.

They go all in for a bit of razzmatazz in US sport, with I believe the national anthem sung before the start of every sporting contest. LA Galaxy were no different.

National Anthem and fireworks!

Sadly, for my money, all the razzmatazz does little to hide the low quality entertainment once the game has kicked off. When the MLS first started in the late eighties/early nineties, as a condition to hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1984, the league was full of has-beens. OK the likes of Pele, Beckenbauer and Cruyff were huge talents, the best the world had seen, but their best playing days were well behind them before they arrived in the States. The current LA Galaxy team has one has been, namely Chicharito, formerly of Manchester United and West Ham United fame. The policy of hiring ‘has beens’ appears to have been replaced by recruiting never-will-bes. The standard of football was very low, with basic ball control being beyond the skill level of many. Maybe I am just spoiled by being more familiar with the English Premier League, which is widely considered to be the best league in the world, although Spain, Italy and Germany may have something to say about that 😊

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable occasion, though it may have seemed better if I had shelled out the $16 required to buy a beer here. $90 would buy you a replica team shirt, or uniform as I think it is called here, and trust me the fans are very loyal here and have very deep pockets. I would estimate that around 90% of fans attended the game wearing something bought in the team store; a home shirt, an away shirt, sweatshirt or jacket, they just love to wear their team colours here, and in my experience far more so than in the UK.

An early penalty gave the Galaxy a one nil lead, and briefly put them top of the league. Seattle equalised, went ahead and held onto that lead to regain their Number One spot by the end of the match.

The other team in the city, Los Angeles FC, play at the Banc of California Stadium next to the Coliseum.

Baseball

Baseball fans can choose to watch either the Angels or the Dodgers. We chose the Dodgers, and paid a visit to the Dodger Stadium. We paid $120, or £85.80 for two tickets, plus an additional $20 in advance to be able to park there. The traffic jam on the way to the game was beyond anyone’s expectations, largely because this was the first sell out game in over 20 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. We were late and missed the start of the game, along with half of all the other supporters.

California has got their covid numbers down, and many of the population are now vaccinated, so the powers that be decided that the date of this match, June 15th, would be freedom day. No more mask wearing for the vaccinated, no social distancing, basically no covid-related rules at all. Over 52,000 people took advantage and attended the game.

The game was very long and with not much action. Despite being about an hour late by the time we found our seats we really hadn’t missed much and there were still several hours to go. The uniform clad fans resorted to doing Mexican waves on several occasions, likely because of a lack of action on the pitch. The atmosphere was good but the people here appeared to be here more for the night out rather than for the game itself. Quite often people were chatting amongst themselves rather than watching the game and it took a good hour for Carol to manage to get us two portions of fries due to the queues .

The Dodgers ran out winners against the Phillies by 5-3 with the highlight being a home run hit into the crowd just a few yards in front of me. The home run was struck by Mookie Betts, and a woman wearing his name on her kit caught the ball in the crowd. Here, about 98% of fans wore team jerseys. I think you get to keep the ball if you catch it.

It was quite an occasion, a spectacle, and we’re glad we went but we left feeling a million miles from becoming baseball fans. The game is so slow! In over 3 hours of play, from our arrival at 7.30pm to the finish at gone half – ten, the ball was meaningfully struck only about 10 times! Give me cricket any day 😊

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