In 1995, Los Angeles had two professional football teams: the Rams and the Raiders. That same year, due to failed stadium talks, both teams relocated from the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Raiders moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, becoming the Oakland Raiders once again. The Los Angeles Rams moved to the Midwest and became the St. Louis Rams. 1995 was a terrible year for football fans living in Los Angeles. To this day,more than 17 years later, America’s second largest sports market is still without an NFL franchise.
The Los Angeles area, which includes Orange County, forms one big sporting market. It has a total of 8 professional sports teams, which include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Galaxy, and Chivas U.S.A. The L.A. area also has two big college football teams; UCLA and USC. With a population of more than 17 million people, you would expect L.A. to have a football team once again, but that is not the case. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the L.A. area has no football franchise at all.
The NFL and commissioner Rodger Goodell are pushing for a new team in the Los Angeles market. Goodell has stressed though that no expansion team would be established for L.A., and that one or two of the leagues teams can move to L.A. if they are not happy with their current home. Before this past season, in 2011, seven NFL teams had been rumored to be interested in moving to Los Angeles, such as the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings came off that list. After years of debate, and negotiations the 49ers got the green light to build a $1 billion dollar stadium in Santa Clara in the Bay Area, where the team’s headquarters are located. In May of 2012, the Minnesota Vikings plan for a new stadium was passed by the state Senate, and the team will remain in Minneapolis for the long-term future.
Now only five NFL teams remain, which are the Raiders, Chargers, Rams, Bills, and Jaguars. The Buffalo Bills are committed to remaining in the city of Buffalo, but as of the past couple years, the franchise has shown a lot of interest to possibly relocate the team to Toronto, Canada. The have played a few pre-season and regular season games in Toronto in the past few years. The NFL would like to see the Bills stay on the east coast of the country or move to Toronto not Los Angeles. The St. Louis Rams have shown interest in the past two years to relocate back to Los Angeles. The Rams haven’t had a winning season in a while, and are in a rebuilding mode for the next few seasons. The team is looking for a new stadium and their lease at the aging Edward Jones Dome is coming to an end in 2015. With muffled on and off stadium talks, the organization has shown a lot of interest in the past year to make that move back to L.A. Even though the Rams have been on the decline in recent years, they have an excellent fan-base, and many local business people are trying to keep the Rams in the area. The Rams staying in St. Louis would probably be a better idea, rather than relocating them.
The three most logical choices for an NFL team in L.A. are the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Oakland Raiders were established in the city of Oakland. They moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and moved back to Oakland in 1995. A return back to Los Angeles would be a logical choice, but the fan-base in Oakland is getting back to where it used to be in the 1960s and 1970s. With the passing of his father, Al Davis, Owner Mark Davis has expressed that he would like the Raiders to remain in Oakland or anywhere in the Bay Area that would build a new football venue. The most logical choice is for the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers to share the new football stadium that is currently under construction in Santa Clara in the South Bay Area. This decision would be a popular one, and it would be very similar to what the Giants and the Jets do in New York. In recent months, the city of Oakland has put out a rough sketch, and is coming up with a financial plan to build a new football stadium for the Raiders in the current location they play in. The Bay Area is a big enough sports market to have two football franchises. I see the Oakland Raiders staying in the Bay Area and sharing the new stadium in Santa Clara with the 49ers.
Another logical choice for the move to Los Angeles is the San Diego Chargers. Originally, the Chargers were established in 1960 and played their first season in Los Angeles in 1960. After just one season, the Chargers moved to San Diego. The team has had several successful years in San Diego and has grown a huge fan-base. In the past few years the Chargers and the city of San Diego have had multiple stadium talks, including five different stadium proposals in the San Diego area in Oceanside, Chula Vista, National City, Escondido, and downtown San Diego. The team’s future in San Diego is very uncertain, and team officials have shown a lot of interest in a possible move to neighboring Los Angeles, where two stadium proposals are currently in progress.
The final, and in my opinion, most logical choice for a move to Los Angeles, would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team was established in 1995 with the Carolina Panthers. The Jaguars as an expansion team had early success, but in recent years the franchise has had several losing seasons. The team’s popularity is in decline, and attendance at home games are dropping ever year, which a considerable amount of money is being lost. In 2011, former Jaguars Owner, Wayne Weaver, sold the franchise to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The Jaguars are a few years away from the playoffs, and the team is in a total rebuilding mode. Many have said that if the team’s attendance at home games continues to fall, and if they continue to have home games blacked-out from television, then the team would most likely move from Jacksonville, which is the NFL’s smallest sporting market. The city only has a population of more than 821,000 people. A move to Los Angeles would increase the teams profits greatly. The Jaguars currently play in the AFC South division, and a move to L.A. would not change or re-align the divisions. Los Angeles is a prime location for the Jaguars, and with the right coaching staff and players, the team could be very successful in an area that is dying for an NFL team. Shahid Khan has said that his intention is to keep the franchise in Jacksonville, but who knows, when money is involved everybody changes their mind.
At the moment, the city of Los Angeles is growing impatient for an NFL team. For years and years the same topic has been discussed, although with no serious plan. Finally in 2011 and 2012, two main stadium proposals have been put into play. The first proposal is the proposed stadium in Industry, California. The proposal is being led by Edward P. Roski, who is a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. The stadium will be a state of the art, 75,000 seat venue, which will have an estimated cost of $800 million. The site is in between two main freeways, routes 57 and 60, making it a prime location. The location of the stadium will be 22 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
The second and most recent proposal, is the future Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles. The stadium would be located next to the Staples Center and the Nokia Center, also next to the Los Angeles Convention Center. The proposed stadium project is being led by Anschutz Entertainment Group President, Tim Leiweke, and by Casey Wasserman, who is the CEO of the Wasserman Entertainment Group. On February 1st, 2011, Farmers Insurance signed a $700 million dollar deal over thirty years for the stadium’s official naming rights, hence giving the name “Farmers Field.” The stadium has will be a retractable-roof venue, with a capacity of more than 72,000 seats. Currently, the stadium’s construction costs are estimated at $1.2 billion. The goal of the both men, the city of Los Angeles, and the NFL is start construction by 2013. Although things may be set in motion, and a consistent plan has been drawn up, no NFL team has yet committed to relocate to Los Angeles, which is making people in L.A. very nervous that it might not even happen. Many critics have said that having an enormous venue of that size would cause serious traffic situation, cluttering the downtown area. Unfortunately, L.A. is known for its horrendous traffic.
In 2012, both the 49ers and Vikings came off the list of possible NFL teams to move to Los Angeles. Raiders Owner Mark Davis has stressed that he wants to keep the team in Oakland or possibly anywhere in the Bay Area. The Buffalo Bills are either staying Buffalo or moving to Toronto,Canada in the near future. This past week, the Minnesota Vikings had their stadium deal passed by the Minnesota State Senate, and the team is staying in Minneapolis for the long-term future. The Rams organization has expressed interest in L.A., but they would like to stay in St. Louis. So, the only two candidates left, are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers. Owner Shahid Kahn has said that he wants to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville, and has no interest in moving the franchise, but only time will tell if he sticks to his word.
Recently, commissioner Rodger Goodell has retracted his statement of expanding the league in the near future, to no new expansion teams at all. The NFL has 32 teams, with 8 total divisions, in both conferences making it even. The San Diego Chargers have no real stadium proposal in motion, and the team is very close to Los Angeles, which makes a move to the north, is very easy to do. The Chargers are L.A’s last hope for an NFL team to relocate to the city, unless suddenly the NFL’s decides to expand, which it wont for a long time. Only time and most importantly money will change the outcome of this continuous situation. The clock is ticking for the city of Los Angeles, and for its people to have an NFL team.