There May Be Hope Yet for NFL in Los Angeles
At the Farmers Field media presentation on February 1, someone affiliated with the project asked me how excited I was about the NFL coming back to Los Angeles. It was clear by the joyful, upward cadence of her question that the correct answer was, “OHMYGODITHINKI’MGOINGTOPUKEI’MSOEXCITED!!!!!111”
Too bad I wasn’t. After the Rams and Raider left after the 1994 season, Los Angeles was supposed to get an NFL team to fill the void. In January 1996, the Seattle Seahawks actually moved operations to Anaheim before a judge refused to let the team out of their lease thwarting that attempt. In 1999, NFL owners approved Los Angeles to get the expansion 32nd franchise. But because of all the bickering around town, the NFL got scared and gave the franchise to Houston.
Basically it has been 17 years of cock-blocks and blueballs.
That’s why when things look to have traction it has been easier to be dismissive of everything. The Coliseum? No one’s going to play in that dump. The landfill in Carson? Sure if you like to swim in Ebola. The Rose Bowl? Those NIMBY assholes would rather have a bus line run through their neighborhood before seeing the NFL - the horror!
So when that lady asked me that question six months ago, I told her I won’t believe anything until I see shovel meet dirt.
But something changed in those six months. On Tuesday the Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to go ahead with the Farmers Field plan. Everyone voted yes. Not only Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Bernard Parks. But even Bill Rosendahl, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian! That was probably the first time anything was agreed upon unanimously by the City Council with respect to the NFL.
So now I have that twinge of hope. I am starting to believe we will be seeing the Los Angeles Chargers and the return of the Los Angeles Rams. Without seeing the Convention Center being taped off and destroyed, I can imagine taking the Silver Line to L.A. Live and covering that weekend’s Los Angeles Raiders game. Or going out to the Los Angeles Jaguars practice facility. Or stalking the Los Angeles Vikings General Manager around draft time.
Deep down inside, I know I will pay for having this hope. The one time I allow for any bit of vulnerability will be my downfall. I just know somehow the State of California will do something to make the Environmental Impact Report process a quagmire fit for Congress.
But this time it is hard to avoid getting caught up. Damn it, I do want the NFL in Downtown Los Angeles.
POSSIBLE NFL TEAMS FOR LOS ANGELES IF THE STATE DOESN’T SCREW THINGS TO HELL
San Diego Chargers. They are the odds on favorite to be the first on board. They have an annual window to opt out of their lease with the aging Qualcomm Stadium. And if you think Los Angeles politics is dysfunctional, try on San Diego’s for size.
Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately they need to be included because with how well the City of Oakland and Alameda County are doing with their sporting infrastructure, it really is a wonder that they have professional teams there. Also owner Al Davis loved it here in Los Angeles and regrets moving back up to Oakland. A year or two ago, it would have seemed like a long shot for the Raiders moving back to LA. But they are climbing quickly up the depth chart.
St. Louis Rams. First off, Georgia Frontiere is dead. Seeing that woman carry that Super Bowl trophy gleaming made me sick to my stomach. But she passed on, the team was sold and they are beginning to face some stadium issues.
Minnesota Vikings. As quickly as the Raiders have risen in the depth chart, that’s how quickly the Vikings are plummeting. They are starting to address the stadium situation in Minneapolis, and it’s starting to look it will get done.
Jacksonville Jaguars. Another team that is falling down the depth chart. For some reason they want to stick it out in Jacksonville although it is becoming more and more untenable.
San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the 49ers can move to Los Angeles. San Francisco won’t build them a new stadium. Neither will Santa Clara. And talk about dumps, Candlestick should have been condemned by now. It’s an outside chance, but Angelenos can taunt their Bay Area brethren. The Giants might have won the World Series, but Los Angeles could steal their football team.
Buffalo Bills. Not only is Buffalo a small market, it’s a diminishing market. This is another unlikely candidate for relocation, but economics being what they are (and owner Ralph Wilson’s age being what it is) something has to give up there.