Los Angeles, California has been home to both the Rams and the Raiders but it has been 20 years since the city had its own football team, although a deal to lure the NFL back to the city is still on the table. Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) had a deal with the city to develop a new stadium and that deal – which was set to expire Saturday – has been extended until April.
AEG now has a further six months to persuade an NFL franchise to relocate to the city and the details would have to be finalized by October of next year. Although a dialogue between the developer and the league is ongoing, none of the league’s 32 teams have indicated a strong interest. Nevertheless, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti described the prospect of an NFL team coming to LA in the next year as “highly likely.” During a radio interview, Garcetti said “Football is something a big city should have.” Both he and Curren Price, head of the city council’s Economic Development Committee, had supported extending AEG’s deadline.
Garcetti, had already ruled out any possibility of the city footing the bill for the building of a new stadium that would meet NFL standards. As part of the deal to extend its deadline, AEG has agreed to foot the bill for the expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center as an alternative to the completion of a brand new stadium. That cost has been set at $750,000. AEG Facilities owns and operates a number arenas and stadiums around the world, including the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. In a statement on the company’s website, President and CEO Dan Beckerman says “We have resumed discussions with the NFL and, while much remains to be done before a deal could come together, we remain committed to this project.” Los Angeles represents the nation’s second-largest television market and Garcetti has been touting the potential financial benefits to an NFL team relocating to the city – pointing to the $2 billion sale of the Clippers as an example of the value of a LA-based sports franchise.
In order for any NFL to relocate, approval must be given by three-quarters of the league’s team owners. The San Diego Chargers, who are looking into the construction of a new stadium, have already expressed opposition to the prospect of Los Angeles NFL team. Around 30 percent of the Chargers’ revenue comes from the LA market. “Allowing another team to move into those markets would be economically harmful to the Chargers, to say the least,” said Mark Fabiani, counsel to Dean Spanos, who is the Chargers’ president.
Whilst some have touted the idea of an NFL expansion, to include a LA-based team, league insiders have largely dismissed the idea. Touching on the subject in a July 2013 interview, Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was enthusiastic about the idea of seeing a football team move to LA. “It’s more imminent than any time since we haven’t had a team in Los Angeles,” said Jones, noting that the absence of an NFL team in such a large market was “…a little bit of a black eye for all of us.” He added “There won’t be any expansion, so it will be teams that move.” As for Mayor Garcetti; he is hopeful that a return of an NFL team to Los Angeles will be on the table at next spring’s owners meeting.
Graham J Noble