ATL to L.A.? Quite intriguing nonetheless.
Los Angeles, California is interested in the Atlanta Falcons.
According to FOX 5 News In Atlanta:
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is warning city council members about business interests in Los Angeles who want to move the Falcons to the west coast.
Team owner Arthur Blank shared that information with top city and state officials in their discussions about financing a new stadium in downtown Atlanta. Two council members who met with Mayor Kasim Reed told FOX 5's Morse Diggs about private discussions the mayor hosted at City Hall.
Part of this story deals with the Georgia Dome and some financials. Also from FOX 5 News in Atlanta:
Gov. [Nathan] Deal said that the initial request for the taxpayer-funded stadium commitment was "too high."
Still, the stadium cost is to be largely covered by the Falcons, and Governor Deal says that the state hopes to reach an agreement that will utilize other financial alternatives.
At the same time, Deal says that the Falcons have made a good case that without a new facility, the current dome will need costly upgrades.
So, looking ahead of the curve here and across America toward Los Angeles, let's view some pros and cons for the Falcons in Southern California.
Los Angeles Raiders fan in the 1980s.
From 1946 through 1994 the St. Louis Rams were known as the Los Angeles Rams.
Also, from 1982 through 1994 the Oakland Raiders were known as the Los Angeles Raiders.
Clearly the city has an impressive history with pro football, but no existing team since the Rams and Raiders bolted after the '94 campaign.
And according to CNN Money in June of 2005, L.A. was directly behind New York City as a major market.
With two NBA, MLB and NHL teams and two major college football programs (USC and UCLA), L.A. has an immense amount of sports outside of pro football. But the NFL is America's most popular sport, and having it in L.A. would simply amplify the league's popularity.
The Falcons have existed as a franchise since 1966.
And since that season, the Falcons have always located in Atlanta, Georgia.
The team's fans deserve a pro football club as well, because Atlanta was among the worst in pro football when it began. From their inaugural season through 1977, the Falcons never made the postseason.
In addition, Atlanta saw just two winning seasons and zero division championships.
Thereafter was a brief spurt of success between 1978 and 1982 that included three playoff appearances. Unfortunately, the Falcons went back to losing and didn't return to the postseason until 1991.
The fans have stuck it out and it would be tough to see a team relocate. Considering how consistent Atlanta has succeeded of recent, moving across the country now would be a tough break for its fans.
An interesting situation of the Falcons potentially moving would reignite those old NFC West rivalry flames.
Although the San Francisco 49ers completely dominated that division during the 1980s and 1990s, Atlanta had its fare of solid success. After all, the Falcons hosted the 49ers in the 1998 NFL playoffs.
Facing a San Francisco offense that still featured Steve Young and Jerry Rice, Atlanta managed to come out victorious. Courtesy of a missed field goal in the NFC title game, Atlanta upset the Minnesota Vikings and earned a berth in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Along with the 49ers, Atlanta's potential relocation and re-entrance to the division also include the St. Louis Rams. This would be one insane rivalry in today's NFL, especially should Atlanta move to L.A. simply because of the Rams leaving the city after the 1994 season.
The Los Angeles fans would relish the chance to see their new franchise host their former franchise as a division rival. In terms of intensity and NFL lore, it would be good for pro football.
Now, this only matters if Atlanta moves across the country and if the Falcons were to rejoin the NFC West.
Given that Los Angeles does reside in Southern California, having the Falcons remain in the NFC South is still a feasible solution.
Although if the Falcons were to become the fifth team of the NFC West, that would throw a wrench into the rest of the divisional alignments. Geography, to a certain extent, is important regarding rivalries in the NFL.
Think of the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Would this rivalry work if the two teams were located across America from one another?
Back to divisional alignments and the NFC South would need to either keep the Falcons or move ahead with three teams. The inconvenience of the Falcons remaining in the NFC South comes from the Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers now having to travel much further and vice versa.
Currently pro football is set up nicely regarding the disparity between traveling within the division. And the Falcons moving out west could break up the solid alignments in place.