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LA Football Saga Continues

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The NFL-LA saga continued this week, as Mayor Villaraigosa chose to score political points by stating the obvious.

"We need a football team here," Villaraigosa told radio host Rikki Kleiman. "It's the entertainment capital of America, and we need a football team here. What I've said, though, is we're not spending public money for it. We're not going to subsidize the building of stadiums."

Thanks Antonio for reminding the NFL owners how difficult it's going to be to get a team here. The NFL recognized long ago that not a cent of public money would go toward a new stadium. And now that has led to a remarkable proposal where the NFL would spend over $500 million to renovate the aging Coliseum which is publicly-owned. That's right, no public money spent to renovate a publicly-owned stadium. Talk about a steal.

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We thought one of the big holdups was control. Naturally, if the NFL is going to spend more than $500 million of its own money on sprucing up the Coliseum, it wants to have some authority over the facility, and that's only fair. The other holdup is that Anaheim might actually be willing to use public money for their proposed stadium, and the NFL still wants Pasadena in the competition now that a Rose Bowl ballot initiative has been proposed.

But it turns out there's another potential obstacle. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says that the NFL's efforts to enhance revenue sharing will decrease the likelihood of moving a team here. We should read into Jones' comments on several different levels. First off, LA fans should know that Jerry Jones is an ally when it comes to putting an NFL team in SoCal. Jones has been very supportive of LA football, dating back to when the Raiders were in town. He even considered selling the Cowboys once and buying an expansion team here. Jones continues to support the LA market by holding Cowboys training camp in Oxnard every so often, like this year.

Jones loves LA, and he wants football here badly. He recognizes that the NFL needs this city. Jones also has been one of the league's biggest critics of revenue sharing, feeling he should be rewarded for building up one of football's most profitable teams. Jones has sought side deals with Reebok, Pepsi, and anyone else who will give him cash that doesn't have to be shared by 31 other teams.

So Jones was basically telling the NFL that they're endangering their own LA prospects with this revenue sharing plan. And he was telling LA to oppose the increased revenue sharing, as if Angelenos would care about it.

Now that we've sorted through the politics, LAist will offer its take. We're thrilled that Mayor Villaraigosa wants an NFL team here, and refusing to publicly fund a stadium is an understandable position. But you don't bring a team here with threats. The Mayor saying "every year that they are not here is one more year where people start to forget," may be true, but it's not going to win him friends in the league office. The NFL is America's most profitable league, and it doesn't want some one-month Mayor telling it how to run its business.

Jerry Jones would also be wise to keep his issues with the NFL between himself, the league, and the other owners. LA football fans aren't going to be picketing the league offices any time soon to stop revenue sharing increases. As Bill Plaschke proved in his column yesterday, most Angelenos (myself not included) don't care when or if the league comes back. All Jones did was agitate the Mayor, albeit unintentionally. We need people like Mayor Villaraigosa and Jerry Jones working together for us, instead of trying to use LA's football situation to score their own political points through the LA Times.

Also see: LAist on the NFL