Which NFL Team is Moving to Los Angeles?
July 19, 2008
The second largest media market in the US has been without an NFL team since the Raiders shimmied off to Oakland in 1995. It’s been a long dry spell that commissioner Roger Goodell is keen on dousing. Edward P. Roski, partial owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings, announced a couple of weeks ago a proposed 75,000-seat stadium (expandable to 80,000 for Super Bowl games) in the City of Industry that could have a team back in LA by 2011. The plan looks to plant the stadium within the hilly terrain of the area thus saving on construction costs. Does it make sense to bring a team back to Los Angeles? Thanks to Pete Carroll, USC practically operates as the defacto 33rd NFL team already. In the 90s, the Raiders had a rough time filling the 90,000-seat Coliseum to ward off TV blackouts yet they also shared the market with the Rams who would leave for St. Louis in 1995. If Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco can all support teams, I think its pretty safe to say Los Angeles can as well.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints have been rumored to be headed to Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and San Antonio in recent years. All idle talk pretty much came to a screeching halt post-Katrina. The Saints became the symbol of hope for the flood ravaged city, and the community rallied around its team, selling out the Superdome for the first time ever in 2006. Circumstance also played its hand, bringing in marquee talent like Drew Brees and Reggie Bush to help Sean Peyton build a winning franchise. Don’t expect the city of New Orleans to allow the Saints to escape anytime soon.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills days in Buffalo are definitely numbered, but their new home seems destined to be Toronto instead of LA. Owner Ralph Wilson negotiated the time-share arrangement of having the Bills host up to two home games per season at the Rogers Centre over the next five seasons. The NFL is making a big push into international markets as seen by the two games hosted in London and plans to pave more in roads into Europe and Asia in future seasons. Buffalo is a depressed area, hit hard by the rusting manufacturing industry in the US that is decimating population in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. It’s not a question of if the Bills will move to Toronto, but when.
St. Louis Rams: Georgia Frontiere died in January passing ownership of the team down to her son Dale Rosenbloom and daughter Lucia Rodriguez. The team is reportedly for sale though Rosenbloom denies this. Rosenbloom has come out and said that the family will look to keep the team in St. Louis. The fanbase has definitely backed the team that has sold out all but three home games since relocating to St. Louis in 1995. The city needs to pony up to meet its lease agreement, stating that the Rams facilities will rank in the top 25% of NFL stadiums in 2015. Slapping a coat of paint on the Edward Jones Dome isn’t going to help it keep pace with Jerry Jones’ billion-dollar behemoth. If the team does find new ownership, expect an LA move to be firmly on the table.
San Francisco 49ers: Though desirable due to proximity of geography, the 49ers look to be heading to nearby Santa Clara. They determined in 2007 that aging Monster Park (one of the oldest stadiums used by the NFL) was severely degrading the value of the franchise. After many stalled attempts to keep the team in San Francisco, the stars aligned in Santa Clara, and the new site looks to be built near the Great America theme park. The team is hedging its bets with alternate locations at Hunter’s Point in SF as well as a waterfront landfill in Brisbane.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The expansion Jaguars entered the league in 1995, and have struggled to find its base in small market Jacksonville ever since. The team has continually been plagued with an inability to secure sellouts at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium thus incurring the dreaded league mandated blackouts. Even after the team’s recent success that looks to propel them close to a Super Bowl birth this season, they are still struggling mightily to sell out their season tickets. In truth, their 76,000 capacity stadium dwarfs the meager 1.3 million people in the metro area. It was rumored a few weeks back that the team was being sold to C. Dean Metropoulos yet team owner Wayne Weaver ultimately shut down the news, vehemently saying the team wasn’t for sale.
Minnesota Vikings: The lease on the Metrodome comes due in 2011. A new stadium plan was nudging steadily forward until the I-35 bridge collapsed in August, shifting public financing priorities. The latest proposal by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is a $853 million retractable-roof stadium that utilizes some of the current dome’s foundation. Of course, everything is still in the planning phases at this point, and its unclear how much public financing will be able to be generated to get the project off the ground. Regardless, the clock is ticking, and the timetable does mesh if Minneapolis can’t draw a workable solution together.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have been planning to shut the doors on Qualcomm Stadium since 2003. They’ve had a couple of false starts with plans at National City and Oceanside not bearing fruit. The team’s best bet seems to reside in Chula Vista, and it’s a tenuous one at that. Current plans are zeroed in on the bayfront power plant property, but that seems to be tangled up in contingencies of finding an alternate power plant to take its place. Regardless, things aren’t looking too rosy for the Chargers chances of staying in San Diego. The team has the talent to win a Super Bowl tomorrow, yet they struggled to sell out playoff tickets to last year’s game. They need a larger market like LA to maximize the value inherent in this franchise.
Oakland Raiders: With Al Davis, can we really rule anything out? He’s crazy enough to jump back in bed with the city he fled 10 years ago without a second thought. Plus they’ve probably got some old stationary and bumper stickers lying around they can put to good use. The Raiders have stadium issues like the other California teams. For a time, there was talk of them buddying up with the 49ers on a co-venture similar to the sharing arrangement the Giants and Jets have at Giants Stadium. Since both inhabited the Bay area, it seemed to make sense. Ultimately, it looks like they will be charting their own course. Dublin was the latest site thrown up for consideration earlier in the year, but with the Raiders recent losing ways and lack of fan support you have to wonder if a move to Los Angeles by the Raiders would provide a large boost to both Bay teams. Its your move kooky Al.
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