The Los Angeles Times did a fascinating and sad story about former USC great Anthony Davis who is struggling someone to continue cashing in on his fame as USC’s “Notre Dame Killer” for his five TD performance in the 192 and 1974 games against the Fighting Irish.
The story had an interesting tidbit:Â “The opportunities that came Davis’ way were invariably tied to his USC days.
In 1998, for example, two Irvine City Council members asked him to help pitch the idea of bringing an NFL team to the area. Because of Davis’ involvement, Orange County businessman Tom Clark gave $55,000 in seed money to the effort.”
Turn back the clock to 1998.Â This was the plan for the El Toro site in lieu of an airport and was spearheaded by then Mayor and current city council member Christina Shea, who used two surveys — one of local businesses and one of local residents — to gauge interest in a team.
From another LA Times story:
“A majority of Orange County residents and business people support building a professional football stadium in Irvine or a nearby city, according to a sports-marketing study released Friday.
The phone survey of 500 Orange County residents, which was sponsored by the city of Irvine, showed that 79.2% back a National Football League stadium and franchise somewhere in the county. Of those, 72.2% want it in Irvine.
Eighty-three percent of residents want to see a sports hall of fame, theme restaurants and theaters built next to the stadium.
Business people polled were even more supportive. Of 547 companies contacted in May and June, 85% supported an NFL stadium in the county, 66% in Irvine….
Irvine City Council members have been considering the feasibility of bringing an NFL team to the city. They will review the study at the Aug. 25 council meeting, said Peter Hersh, manager of planning services for the city.
“We’re studying the issue to determine the next step,” he said.
Arthur Anderson LLP, a sports advisory services group in Washington, D.C., developed both surveys and conducted the one in the business sector. Newport Beach-based Adam D. Probolsky and Associates performed the residential study.”
I’m sure the sampling was perfectly reasonable.
The idea didn’t sit well with Jack Wu, thenÂ a candidate for Irvine City Council.Â In his SmartVoter candidate’s statement, Wu wrote:Â “A program called “Destination Irvine,” developed by the Chanber of Commerce, wants to increase weekend visitors to the city. By bringing an NFL team here, Irvine will get its weekend visitors, sort of like a twig sitting in the sand while a 20-foot wave plows through the twig and the lifeguard towers, and the multi-million dollar homes 100 yards up the beach. If Irvine has the only NFL franchise in the greater Los Angeles area, the freeways will see the greatest influx of southbound Sunday traffic squeezing in and out of the El Toro Y ever seen. The football hooligans, who so lovingly mix with the Los Angeles police, would come into town and test Irvine’s finest, in addition to mixing with Orange County’s affluent season-ticket holders. Water and oil. Is this an elitist point of view? No, it’s a point of view from behind the Orange Curtain. I live in Irvine. I like the peace and quiet on the weekends. I like being able to drive south to San Diego without having to keep track of when the Raiders are coming to town to play our Irvine team. Imagine if the Dodgers weren’t in Los Angeles anymore, and the Angels were the only Los Angeles area baseball team. And you thought the traffic on the 57 freeway was bad on game days! When I want the excitement and traffic, I’ll drive into Los Angeles. When I want the peace and quiet of home, I’ll stay in Irvine.”
This was nearly 13 years ago and there’s obviously no team in Orange County or Greater Los Angeles for that matter.Â But Shea did make some taxpayer funded trips to North Carolina to see the Panther’s new stadium. But these were the days before Larry Agran’s return to the city council.Â Imagine her outcry if Agran was making the trip.
But if OC were to get a team, what we would call them? What would be their nickname and colors?Â It’s fun to speculate.
(the photo is the proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry)