The One Big Thing: Bring the NFL Back to L.A.?

Ross Coleman

Los Angeles has been devoid of NFL football since the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders moved to Oakland in 1995. However, local real estate developer Edward Roski hopes to change that in the near future.

In April, Roski unveiled his plans to lure an existing NFL team to the Los Angeles area by building a new state-of-the-art NFL specific stadium in the City of Industry, just north of the interchange of the 57 and 60 freeways.

If completed, the proposed 75,000-seat stadium would be ready for the 2011 season.
Roski, who helped fund the Staples Center, said the stadium would be privately funded, much like the Staples Center Project. Also he expects the stadium to bring in at least $400 million annually in revenues and create nearly 3,000 jobs in the area.

The Stadium plans show an open-air stadium that would be surrounded by shops and restaurants. All in all, the stadium would be the most luxurious and state-of-the-art stadium ever built and every new sports complex would be compared to it.

But the NFL has no desire to expand the league past the 32 teams that it already consists of. So in order for a team to come to Los Angeles it would mean the relocation of one of the existing teams.

The teams that have been mentioned as the tenants of what is tentatively called the Los Angeles Stadium are the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and the St. Louis Rams.

Most of the teams that have been rumored as possible tenants happen to be looking for new stadiums in the cities in which they currently reside. The fact that the Los Angeles is the second largest media market in the country is being used as a bargaining chip by teams to force the cities they do reside in to build new stadiums for them.

However, the NFL has always planned on bringing the NFL back to the LA area. In 1999, NFL owners awarded the 32nd NFL franchise to the city of Los Angeles on the condition that a new stadium be built that could house a team. When the agreement broke down, Houston was awarded the franchise instead and the Houston Texans were born.

The Los Angeles Stadium proposal is very impressive and it would mean a possible upsurge in the Southern California economy.

But does Los Angeles need an NFL team?
There are a few advantages the fact that the NFL has vacated the area. First is the fact that people can root for any team in the NFL without being tied down to a specific region. Also many people that live in Los Angeles are transplants from all areas of the country – many already have their own favorite teams that they root for.

Secondly, it would take away from the fun college rivalry that has been bred throughout Los Angeles. USC is the preeminent college football program in the country and there are some very exciting things happening at UCLA to revamp that program.

Lastly, there would be very few people that would be willing to adopt an existing team. Many cities that get teams to relocate from existing fan bases don’t really accept the team as part of the framework of the city. I know that I wouldn’t. Especially teams like the 49ers that have had a lot of success in the city that they come from.

So, with all that being said, I think the plans for the new stadium look incredible and I would love to be able to see a sporting event at a place as luxurious and inventive as that, but I am a little more skeptical of the idea that NFL cities would allow a team to move away. Yes, it has happened in the past but I just don’t see any teams that are in desperation to get out of the city they are currently in.

The plans for the new Los Angeles Stadium can be seen at the Web site