Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NFL Meeting In H-town To Decide Who Goes To LA

It has been 21 years since the NFL has had teams in Los Angeles, the second largest TV market in the United States and the largest metropolitan area without an NFL franchise.

The Rams and Raiders moved to St. Louis and Oakland in 1995, and the city's bid to get an NFL expansion franchise back in 1999 was thwarted by lack of a stadium plan and Bob McNair outworking them to secure the expansion franchise that became the Houston Texans and the league's 32nd team.

That two decade NFL drought may be about to come to an end, because three NFL franchises with a history in LA, the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams have put in bids to move, and two of them may be playing in Los Angeles in time for the 2016 NFL season.

The Chargers played one season in Los Angeles when the AFL kicked off in 1960 before they headed south to San Diego.  The Rams moved to LA from Cleveland in 1945 for fiscal reasons after winning the NFL title and because the Cleveland Browns were scheduled to begin play in the All-American Football Conference,  They played at the LA Coliseum and in Anaheim before bouncing to St Louis.

The Raiders moved to Los Angeles from Oakland in 1982 and headed back in 1995 after failure to get improvements made to the LA Coliseum and a proposed stadium deal in Irwindale collapsed.

And yep, out of the three teams in contention to move, the Raiders are a distant third for the affections of LA football fans and sports media pundits..

The NFL special owners meeting will be taking place here in Houston today and tomorrow, and we'll know by the end of it which two teams will be kicking off in LA this fall.

North Bowl
Unlike 1999, the LA area stadium proposals runneth over this time..

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has already broken ground on a new 80,000 seat transparent roofed stadium in Inglewood, near the old LA Forum arena with a construction completion date of 2019.  If it stays on that timetable and he is successful in relocating the Rams back to LA, it would make that new stadium eligible to host a Super Bowl starting in 2020.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders Mark Davis are pushing a joint stadium project in Carson, but the city referendum hasn't happened yet, and it looks like consensus is building for a deal that would call for the Chargers and Rams to share the new Inglewood stadium that is already under construction.
The entertainment company AEG until March 2015 pitched a downtown stadium project near Staples Center, and the City of Industry has another proposed project not attached to any team.

There's support by various influential NFL owners like Bob McNair, Jim Irsay and Jerry Richardson for the Chargers to be one of the teams that moves, while Jerry Jones is part of the 'anybody move to LA' group of owners, especially in light of the fact it's almost time to renegotiate the NFL broadcasting rights contract and teams in LA would enhance the NFL's bargaining position.

Another issue that will be discussed at the meeting here in Houston is whether to move two teams to LA immediately, or stagger their entry into LA, with one team moving now and the other team moving in 2017.  As far as realignment goes, wouldn't be necessary because the Rams are already in the NFC West Division, and the Chargers and Raiders both play in the AFC West Division

The word right now is the Chargers are gone (and I feel your pain San Diego), with the Rams probably being the other team that will be allowed to move.  The Raiders look like they will be the odd team out, but if Davis does decide to move the team, their destination could be San Antonio unless Oakland or the league comes up with a plan that will keep the Raiders in northern California..

Davis held a meeting with San Antonio city officials in 2014 about moving the Raiders there and if they did so, would play in the Alamodome until a new stadium gets built.  

It will take securing 24 votes for the successful teams to get approval to move, and until the new NFL playpens are completed, the relocated NFL teams would play either in the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

We'll find out how this all turns out soon.

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