It seems that ever since the National Football League bid adios to the City of Los Angeles back in 1994 that rumors have swirled around the NFL's return to America's second-largest city, rising and ebbing based on the latest stadium talk or owners trying to milk more money from fanbases across the country.
Those rumors have picked up a bit of steam since the Los Angeles City Council approved plans for a $1.5 billion downtown stadium, and franchises such as the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills have been mentioned as potential relocation candidates.
However, the Bills recently re-upped their lease on Ralph Wilson Stadium and the Chargers have decided to stay in San Diego (at least for now) according to The Associated Press via NESN, so that begs the following question: Assuming that the mythical stadium is built, who would the leading contenders be to fill it?
The first team that springs to the mind of many is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who according to Forbes Magazine are the NFL's least valuable franchise at $770 million. The Jaguars have never ranked in the top half of the NFL in attendance (they were 20th in 2012), the team generated the sixth-lowest amount of revenue in the league in 2011, and the Jaguars play in one of the smallest media markets in the NFL.
All those factors would seem to combine to make L.A. an attractive landing spot for new team owner Shahid Khan, but there are two major stumbling blocks.
First, as Timothy Gibbons of The Florida Times-Union pointed out back in 2011, there would be significant financial penalties involved in relocating the team before 2030. Second, the Jaguars are committed to playing one "home" game in London each of the next four seasons, which would make it all the more difficult for the team to recoup the expenses involved in moving, at least in the short term.
That brings us to the two most likely suspects to find themselves in Los Angeles, and at least they should have no problem finding their way there.
After all, they used to call La-La-Land home.
The Oakland Raiders, believe it or not, are the third-least valuable team in the NFL at $785 million. That's due in large part to a horrible lease with the antiquated Oakland Alameda Coliseum that expires after the 2013 season.
No team in the NFL brought in less revenue or lost more money in 2011 according to Forbes than the Silver and Black, who ranked dead last in the league in average attendance.
The 49ers are building a shiny new stadium in Santa Clara that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was open to the idea of the two teams sharing, according to Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle, but if that doesn't come to pass then relocation could become a very real possibility.
Then there are the Rams.
Much like the Raiders, the Rams play in an outdated stadium, and their attendance figures (30th), revenue amounts (29th) and franchise valuation (31st) all rank near the bottom of the NFL.
The team has been trying to get a new stadium that the city of St. Louis isn't bending over backwards to provide (with very good reason, some would say), and moving back to L.A. could well appeal to the Rams given that there are still more than a few fans of the team in Southern California.
The Rams can get out of their stadium lease after the 2014 season. As Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported, the city and Rams owner Stan Kroenke are involved in arbitration over the future of that lease, the Edward Jones Dome and the team in St. Louis, so there's an awful lot up in the air in that regard.
In fact, that's basically the theme that surrounds all three of the teams and the future of the NFL in Los Angeles.
There's just an awful lot up in the air.
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