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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Lack of NFL Has Impact on at Least One Person

June 11, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

When I hear rumors Troy Aikman and Barry Switzer are feuding again, the first thing I think is whether our team can get him. (Aikman. Not Switzer.) Michael Irvin wants out of Dallas? Should our team take a chance on him? Rod Woodson is auditioning? Is our team in line?

Then I remember. We don't have a team.

It seems I am among the minority in Los Angeles and Orange counties that misses the NFL.

An economic impact study released Tuesday by the Los Angeles Sports Council and L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce revealed that the sports industry here is as healthy as it was four years ago, before we were dumped by Georgia Frontiere and Al Davis.

Even more surprising, attendance at sporting events increased by 8% between 1993 and 1996. A new soccer team in town last year, the Galaxy, attracted more ticket buyers than the NFL's Raiders did in their last season here, 1994.

"People around the country ask me, 'How can L.A. survive without a pro football team?' " said Ezunial Burts, Chamber of Commerce president. "Well, L.A. has survived."

The answer has been the emergence of new teams such as the Galaxy, Ice Dogs, Bullfrogs, Blades, Piranhas, Wings, Quakes, Storm, Stampede, Mavericks, JetHawks and Splash.

Most don't get air time on ESPN's "SportsCenter." I'm not even sure which sports they all play. But they do sell tickets, employ players and staff and contribute to the local economy.

It's a growth industry. Since the last study, we have added two women's professional basketball teams, another indoor football team and another minor league soccer team. By the time the next study is completed in 2000, new arenas in downtown L.A., Long Beach and perhaps Hollywood Park no doubt will have attracted other ventures.

The statistics compiled by UCLA's Anderson School of Management don't lie. We don't need an NFL team.

But I still want one.

As David Simon, Sports Council president, said Tuesday, "It's like another great restaurant downtown. People might not be clamoring for one. But if you opened it, they would come."

Then, there is this. The Anderson students conservatively estimate an NFL team would add another $100 million to our economy each year.

As Steve Martin would say, "Ah, the profit motive."

*

You think you've got a busy week? Former King defenseman Mark Hardy is coaching two teams in four games in four consecutive days. . . .

Hardy is an assistant for the Long Beach Ice Dogs, who play the Detroit Vipers in the IHL's Turner Cup finals tonight and Friday at Long Beach Arena. . . .

Then he switches to his job as head coach of the L.A. Blades as they open the Roller Hockey International season at the Forum on Thursday against the San Jose Rhinos and play again Saturday against the Anaheim Bullfrogs. . . .

OK. I know some of the sports these teams play. . . .

I also know the Turner Cup is not named for Ted. . . .

Or Tina. . . .

It's named for Joseph Turner, a promising young goaltender from Windsor, Canada, killed while fighting with the U.S. Army in Germany's Hentgen Forest during World War II. . . .

Rick Monday says, "Refurbishing the L.A. Coliseum is like putting lipstick on a pig." . . .

Let's get this straight: The Galaxy gives Coach Lothar Osiander a vote of confidence, followed by a three-year contract, then fires him a couple of weeks later?

Even if the decision Monday was the right one, I doubt they teach that technique at the Anderson School of Management. . . .

Blaming Osiander because his leading scorer from last season, Eduardo Hurtado, isn't scoring would be like blaming Bill Russell because the middle of the Dodger lineup isn't driving in runs. None of you out there are doing that, are you? . . .

The stoic but stern Russell is handling his fights like the town marshal in the Louis L'Amour westerns he likes to read. . . .

Speaking of "U.S. Marshals," the studio producing the movie, Warner Bros., has bought incarceration coverage in case one of the stars, Robert Downey Jr., can't complete the project because of his frequent scrapes with the law.

*

While wondering if the Dallas Cowboys have thought of that, I was thinking: I always suspected Rick Monday was a sentimentalist, we'll miss the Poulan-Weed Eater Bowl as much as we do weeds, da Bulls in seven.

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