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This is a business. Granted, we love our local teams, and the connection is emotional.
On the other side, it’s about TV rights, salaries, ticket prices, merchandise revenue and complex tax write-off schemes to maximize or minimize profit, depending on who wants to see the books.
There’s a new stadium on the books in Los Angeles developed by AEG. It’s expected that two teams will be tenants, a la the Giants and Jets in New Jersey.
There was talk about Minnesota being one of the teams, but recent news suggests that the Vikings are going to get a new stadium to get them out of the Metrodome.
Jacksonville, which ranks last on the Forbes list, has had trouble selling out games despite needing just under 60,000 in ticket sales. The Raiders, second to last on the Forbes list, also have trouble selling out. Of note, both of these teams have old stadiums.
But the NFL’s perspective is that, in light of how well the Giants and Jets share the field but operate in different conferences, who’s to say it wouldn’t want a similar arrangement in Los Angeles?
Right now, I imagine the Raider organization is dying to get out of the staid Oakland Coliseum and into a new stadium. And who is their natural rival in another conference? The 49ers, that’s who.
Though the plans are moving forward in Santa Clara, there's no guarantee yet that a stadium will actually get built. In today's economy, building a stadium that guarantees 10 dates a year for its primary tenant does not look good compared to recent cutbacks in county services. (San Jose, for example, just laid off many police officers.)
Does that mean owner John York and his son Jed uproot the Bay Area’s oldest team? Perhaps not, but if a Larry Ellison of Oracle wants to maximize his profit on a near billion-dollar investment (and who is to say the Yorks wouldn’t sell?), why not move the team to Los Angeles? That could appeal to a deep-pockets owner.
It’s just business.