Los Angeles NFL Team: Why The Oakland Raiders, Others Will/Won't Move to LA
Not since the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams has there been as much talk about the NFL in Los Angeles as there has been this year.
From Magic Johnson liquidating his assets to jump into the football sweepstakes, to Philip Anschutz and Tim Leiweke reportedly attempting to acquire a significant stake in the San Diego Chargers, a storm, albeit far from perfect, seems to be gathering that would have professional football return to a part of the country that once hosted Super Bowl games and contenders on a regular basis.
There are certainly plenty of reasons to think that the NFL will return to the City of Angels sooner rather than later, along with a host of concerns that would seem to push pro football further and further away.
With the NFL being in flux as it is without a new collective bargaining agreement, there are more teams than ever that seem poised to move to the freeway capital of the United States.
As such, here's a look at the five teams most likely to jump–the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars–and why each franchise will and won't make the switch.
Why The Vikings Will Move to Los Angeles
Have you seen the Metrodome recently?
As seen all over the internet, the Minnesota Vikings' home stadium is a shambles after a blizzard blew threw Minneapolis, dropping enough snow on top of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome's fabric roof to cause it to collapse.
The Vikings had to play their last home game of the season with Brett Favre, against the Chicago Bears, on the University of Minnesota campus at TCF Bank Stadium. The field there was blanketed with snow and, without a heating system to keep the turf soft as most NFL stadiums do, the conditions were certainly less than ideal.
Owner Zygi Wilf has long wanted a new stadium for his team, especially in light of the rampant disrepair that plagued the Metrodome even before the recent roof collapse.
If the Vikings organization can't get a new stadium in the Twin Cities, the team may very well set up shop in Southern California.
Why The Vikings Will Stay Put in The Twin Cities
Stadium issues aside, the NFL wants the Vikings to remain in Minneapolis for a number of important reasons.
For one, the Vikings have a long and rich history in the Twin Cities, having won 18 division titles, an NFL championship, and four conference crowns. All while placing 10 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame since being founded in 1961.
Secondly, and more importantly from a business standpoint, the NFL views the Twin Cities region as an important and highly lucrative part of the country over which the league has a hold by virtue of the Vikes being there.
In that sense, moving the team from Minneapolis to Los Angeles would be a net loss on the league's balance sheet.
Why The Jacksonville Jaguars Will Ditch The Swamp For SoCal
Of all the teams that could potentially pack up and move to Los Angeles, no organization would seem as eager to make a cross-country trek as the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As successful as the Jags have been on the field since they were established in 1995, the team has struggled over the years to fill the seats at EverBank Stadium on a regular basis.
Not because people in Jacksonville don't care about the Jaguars, but rather because the market just isn't big enough to adequately support an NFL franchise.
Consider the case of Super Bowl XXXIX when the NFL brought the biggest spectacle in American sports to Jacksonville. By all accounts, the city did its best to accommodate all of the festivities surrounding the game, but struggled to keep up with the demand.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, has hosted the Super Bowl seven times, and is easily large enough to support one huge game and, at one time, two professional football franchises.
Combine the economic draw of LA with a paucity of roots in northern Florida, and the Jaguars franchise seems like the perfect candidate to speed west along the 10 freeway to a newer, bigger home.
And, if the team moves soon enough, it'll have the support of all the football fans in LA who remember the glory days of Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis at UCLA.
Why The Jags Will Not Leave Jacksonville Behind
So what's holding the Jaguars back from leaving Jacksonville right now?
Unlike the other teams involved, the Jags have a messy lease to deal with that makes a move out of Florida anything but easy.
Thus, even though the Jaguars struggle to sell out their games at EverBank Stadium, they will have to remain there for financial reasons—unless the team can work out a different deal with the owners of the facility.
Why The Chargers Will Bolt to LA
The San Diego Chargers are the most natural fit geographically to make the move to Los Angeles, with only a two hour trip (or three or four, depending on traffic) up the 405 needed to move all the personnel and equipment out of Qualcomm and into new digs in the City of Angels.
The Chargers already get plenty of exposure in the LA area, thanks to a marketing deal the franchise arranged with the Wasserman Media Group in 2009 to make the team more visible in the city.
Yes, the same Wasserman Media Group headed by Casey Wasserman, one of the principle parties pushing for football in Los Angeles.
He, along with the likes of Philip Anschutz (of Anschutz Entertainment Group), business guru Tim Leiweke, and Laker legend Magic Johnson, were recently rumored to have inquired about acquiring a portion of the Chargers franchise—as much as 35 percent of the ownership.
All of this, along with the poor shape that Qualcomm Stadium is in, and the relative ease with which the team could wiggle its way out of its current lease, would suggest that Bolts are ready to, well, bolt up the freeway to LA.
Why the Chargers Will Stay in San Diego
The biggest impediment to a Chargers move is the ownership.
Simply put, the Spanos family, led by principle owner Alex and president and CEO Dean, has expressed no desire to move the team itself, or to sell the team to anyone who would.
Thus, until the ownership situation changes, don't expect Philip Rivers and the Chargers to call any place other San Diego home.
Why The St. Louis Rams Will Return To Los Angeles
Like the Chargers, the Rams currently play in an old stadium–the Edward Jones Dome–that isn't getting any newer or more state-of-the-art on its own.
Coincidentally, the Rams' lease with the building is soon to expire, opening up the distinct possibility that the team could move back to Los Angeles, the city in which it resided from 1946 to 1994.
Hence, the Rams would be returning to a market with which the organization is very familiar, and one in which it would not be difficult to re-energize a long-dormant fan base that still remembers the days when Eric Dickerson and Jerome Bettis trampled the turf at the Rose Bowl.
Why the Rams Will Remain in St. Louis
Also like the Chargers, the Rams are currently under ownership that has no interest in moving the team anywhere.
New owner Stan Kroenke is a native of the state of Missouri and, as such, isn't looking to deprive fans in his home state of a team that they've supported for 16 years.
Sorry, LA Rams fans, but the Greatest Show on Turf isn't likely to come back any time soon.
Why The Oakland Raiders Are Destined To Move Back to Los Angeles
The Raiders once shared the city of Los Angeles with the Rams, but the whole split market thing didn't exactly work out.
However, now that there aren't any teams to compete with for attention, the Silver and Black could very well find themselves moving to LA for a second time.
Oakland is unlikely to help the Raiders build a better facility anytime soon, and the team's current home–the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium–is arguably the biggest dump in the NFL today.
Add to that the rabid Raiders fan base that's still alive and kicking (and starting fights at USC football games) in LA, and a return to the City of Angels appears to be possibility.
Why The Raiders Will Oakland Home For Years To Come
Of course, there is one big thing holding the Raiders back.
And no, it's not a stadium lease, though the club is committed to play in Oakland through 2013, and it's not a desire by the NFL to keep the team there, as the San Francisco 49ers already have a strong foothold in the Bay Area.
The problem is one man: owner Al Davis.
The tenuous relationship between Davis and the city of Los Angeles was a big reason for the Raiders spending only 13 season in LA.
Davis tried mightily to force the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission to improve its facilities, but was ultimately unsuccessful, leading him to look elsewhere for a new stadium. At one point, in August of 1987, Davis accepted a good-faith payment of $10 million from the city of Irwindale for a potential stadium site. The bid ultimately fell through, but Davis kept the money anyway, a decision that left a decidedly bitter taste in the mouths of most Angelenos.
Thus, even if the Raiders wanted to move back to Los Angeles, the city might not have the franchise back as long as Al Davis is in charge.