It was 14 years ago that Los Angeles and Orange County boasted two basketball teams, two baseball teams, two hockey teams, and, yes, two professional football teams.
Who would have thought that the Rams and Raiders would both leave L.A., let alone in the same year? Thousands, nay millions of football fans were left in distraught overnight.
Many have tried to substitute the Trojans in their place, but the effort is ultimately futile. The people of Los Angeles have suffered long enough, particularly those of us who support UCLA to the bitter end.
In the midst of these dark and endless nights, there is a single ray of hope: the Los Angeles Stadium.
The idea has been around since 2004 and many strides have since been taken on its behalf. If all goes according to plan, construction may begin before the calendar year is over and it could host an NFL team as early as 2011.
Of course, obtaining an NFL team is no easy task.
With the symmetry of 32 teams in eight divisions, expansion into a single city seems to be out of the question. There are even rumors that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa offered to allow open sports gambling in our city in exchange for the Patriots.
It is pretty unlikely the Patriots will be leaving Boston (or Gillette, to be exact) anytime soon, so I will list the five teams that could potentially make their new home in Los Angeles.
I must warn you that the following analysis is based almost entirely on speculation.
5. New Orleans Saints
Some may argue that it may be in bad taste and reflect poorly on the NFL to strip the city of an organization such as the Saints. They have received much credit for the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and are held in high regard by football fans and philanthropists alike.
Unfortunately, the business is driven by economics and many signs suggest that New Orleans is not the ideal place to stay.
They sold out their home games for the first time in 2006 and repeated the feat in 2007. Though these are good signs for the franchise, they will likely be better served as leverage for relocation.
The Superdome is a venue with tons of seating and a rich history, but cannot compare to a modern complex, even with its renovations. Reggie Bush has a large fanbase in Los Angeles and the Saints would likely be embraced by Los Angeles fans.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars currently compete in one of the smallest media markets.
At their inception, Jacksonville was not even ranked in the top 50.
As a Florida expansion team, they were left to compete with the Dolphins and Bucs, who have enjoyed the benefits of well-established fan bases for decades. Furthermore, their proximity to Georgia puts them in direct competition with the Falcons as well.
It was reported that the franchise would be for sale as recently as May of this year.
A move from Jacksonville to Los Angeles would certainly make the team much more marketable and drastically increase revenue. Not to mention that Maurice Jones-Drew has a huge fanbase in L.A. and could end up becoming their franchise player.
3. St. Louis Rams
The Rams' original home is in Cleveland, but turbulent times and competition with the Browns warranted a move to Los Angeles in the 1940s.
They called the Memorial Coliseum home for nearly 35 seasons before they left for Anaheim and eventually, St. Louis.
Within three seasons, they were winners of the Super Bowl and it seemed that a new franchise was born. That shining beacon has since faded into darkness.
Much like the Jaguars, reports of a sale have circulated the Rams in recent months. It is rumored that Eddie DeBartolo will purchase the team for just under a billion dollars and move them back to Los Angeles by 2012.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners' lease with Candlestick Park will be over by the end of the 2010 season and a move to Santa Clara, CA is being heavily considered at this point. Not only was the stadium shared with the Giants for a number of years, Candlestick Park is nearing its 40th birthday.
By any measure, a move to a new stadium in Los Angeles would make much more sense than a move to a new stadium in Santa Clara, a city that boasts Steve Nash as its greatest ever athlete.
The citizens of San Francisco are not shy about expressing their resentment for Los Angeles and this can only fuel that fire. A fire that may lead to a rapid growth of Niner fans in L.A.
1. Oakland Raiders
Staying in Northern California for the top spot—the Raiders.
They have once graced our grounds and are likely to come back for a second tour. They moved from Oakland to L.A. in 1982, went back in 1994, and it seems the time has come for the cycle to continue.
The Raiders currently have some of the lowest attendance in the league. In 2007, they only managed to sell 93 percent of the seats to their home games, the lowest in the entire league.
They are forced to share McAfee Coliseum with the Athletics and that dirt diamond has no place on a football field. Like the Niners, their stadium lease expires at the end of the 2010 season.
Even with them gone, an enormous Raider fanbase remains in Los Angeles. Many pro football fans continue to support the Raiders. Along with the Chargers, the Raiders continue to be mentioned in local sports broadcasts in and around the city.
If they were to return, they will likely be treated as if they never left.
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