Which Available City Is the Perfect Destination for an NFL Franchise?
With the "dire" predictions for the future of the Miami Dolphins in, well, Miami (via ESPN), we've once again reached that time of year when speculation begins about where a team might land if there was a relocation or expansion.
There are certainly a few choices and today we'll take a look at what the pros and cons of some of them are as well as which one is the most likely destination.
I was going to start with Montclair, New Jersey but my editor informs me two teams in Northern New Jersey is enough.
Why it might happen: If you've been paying attention—and as you're here in the offseason, you probably pay too much attention—you know that the NFL wants a team overseas at some point in the future.
The league feels it can be more global and a foothold in Europe would be the next step in that world domination plan. London has a lot of attractive aspects to it. We've already seen interest in the once-a-year games played there. They speak English (laugh all you want but I'm guessing it's much easier to talk players into going there than, say, Norway) and there are just enough similarities to the US to make transition easier for players.
It's also close enough—and short enough of a trip—for people in surrounding countries to hop the Chanel and catch a match...game. Whatever they call it.
Why it won't happen: Honestly, we can start with the 14 hour flight from the West Coast, move to how much of a pain it would be to travel from anywhere, how expensive it would be, the tax issues for players—all of which could be worked out but would be large hurdles in any attempt to have a team there.
On top of that, US fans might riot. There are more than a few who get their hackles raised when the subject comes up as it is. If it actually happened? Chaos.
Ultimately it will happen, but we're not that close.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Why it might happen: Vegas is a huge tourist destination already and one would imagine that plenty of people would travel there and take in a NFL game at the same time. In fact, you might see more visiting fans there than in any other stadium in the league as it's a great excuse for a Vegas weekend jaunt.
The city has a decent-sized population as well and plenty of money for luxury boxes—and could probably sell plenty to Los Angeles businesses who might want to take a trip with a high-end client for the weekend.
There's also plenty of land there and it wouldn't be hard to put a stadium together quickly.
Why it won't happen: You can guess this one. In a league that is image conscious and already has issues with players in the news for the wrong reasons, do they really want a team in a place with legalized gambling, prostitution and rampant alcohol abuse?
More than anything, the deal-breaker is the gambling. The NFL has fought betting on its games in places other than Vegas, so I'd imagine they wouldn't be keen on moving a team where it's already happening.
Los Angeles, California
Why it might happen: They've already got two stadium plans and while there's always some hang-up, the city is as close to having an NFL team as they have been since they lost out on the team that would become the Houston Texans.
There's a ton of money here, a load of business which would buy luxury boxes (and currently do for every other sport there) and tons of star power. I have no secret document saying so, but I'd be willing to bet the league office and owners would love to have any number of A-list, resident LA celebrities on camera attending a LA Earthquakes game.
Also despite having lost two teams, this is a city that can support an NFL franchise. The Raiders and Rams could have made it work—they chose not to.
Why it won't happen: That said, this is a city that struggled to make the Rams and Raiders packed events, in part because when teams suck the people have lots of other things to do. A team that moves (or expands) here had best be decent off the bat or the newness could wear off and attendance will drop (just ask the Clippers about that).
Also, it's nice to have two stadium proposals but that's all they are—proposals. They've had those before and as yet the city and county of Los Angeles couldn't get it's act together in time to make those stadiums actually happen.
Last but perhaps most importantly, as much as the league says it wants a team in LA, I suspect they don't care all that much. Their TV ratings are solid in the city, as most people watch games of other teams all Sunday. Also, putting a team in Los Angeles would mean losing it as leverage.
What's the first city to come up in moving threats? LA, and it's a credible one because it's a big city with all of the above in the "why it might happen" paragraphs above.
How many teams have received public money when the words "LA" and "California" are combined with "moving"?
San Antonio, Texas
Why it might happen: While three teams in Texas might seem excessive, we've got three teams in California, three in New York and three in Florida.
And of the above, which one is as football mad as Texas? (The answer is: None.)
San Antonio, with its large population and size and a ready-to-go Alamodome, already has a high-caliber sports team in the San Antonio Spurs, so you know they have the ability to be a hardcore fanbase.
There is plenty of business and enough industry to support the luxury boxes owners crave and in general, the city is just a nice place to visit.
Why it won't happen: There isn't a ton to dislike about San Antonio, save that there are two teams in the state to compete with and it's not as metropolitan and shiny as a New York, Los Angeles or Miami.
Also, while it has the Alamodome, the NFL would eventually want a new stadium and whether the taxpayers could or would support it is up for debate.
Which is the most likely city?
I'd lean towards San Antonio. To me, it has the least amount of question marks and hurdles with plenty of upside.
Which city will get a team?
As I said earlier, I believe the league isn't in a rush for a stadium in LA because it likes the leverage. The gambling in Vegas is likely a deal-breaker and London is too big a leap.
Could a city like Portland, Oregon or Omaha, Nebraska get some play? Maybe, but I see them as way behind the four cities listed here.
If I were laying out money, I'd be San Antonio all the way.
Who did I miss? Where should a team move? Where would an expansion team do well? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.
Andrew Garda is the former NFC North Lead Writer and a current NFL Analyst and video personality for Bleacher Report. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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