aNewDomain — Pardon the hyperbole, but THE NFL MIGHT COULD POSSIBLY POTENTIALLY POSSIBLY MAYBE return to Los Angeles in our lifetimes.
More than 20 years after the Raiders and Rams bolted from the country’s No. 2 television market, a host of communities and team owners are getting closer and closer to bringing the sport back to the City of Angels.
Is the NFL coming back to LA?
Looks serious this time.
The story has become a yearly rerun, and a number of teams have thrown the LA card into the mix, mostly to scare their communities into building new stadiums or making improvements to existing ones. The Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, naturally, have talked about going back to Southern California over the years. It was an annual rite of the offseason when Al Davis owned the maverick Raiders. He even sued the league over the right to take his team to Tinseltown.
Joining those teams in the league’s LA Story were the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. The Jaguars’ ongoing attendance problems were helped when the league named the Jaguars as the designated once-a-year London team, guaranteeing at least one good home gate per year. The Vikings got a new stadium and the Saints pulled down improvements at the Superdome.
Of all those possibilities, the Chargers moving up Interstate 5 seems most realistic. Of course, calling a move to Los Angeles anything more than tentative at this point is foolhardy, but this rumor appears to have legs.
Owners’ meetings in suburban Phoenix earlier in the month, and a commitment from the city of Carson, California last week to build a stadium, put the item on the front-burner again. According to the Los Angeles Times (and shouldn’t that paper know), New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, has said that he envisions two teams in the city in the near future.
“We have some real good options,” Kraft told the Times. “Now we’ll see what happens in the end game.”
The Carson city council last week approved $1.7 billion to construct a stadium on top of a former landfill — it brings a whole new meaning to when the home team is in the dumps.
Funny thing is, the privately financed stadium is slated to be home to the Chargers and the Raiders, two bitter rivals from their days in the American Football League. While “strange bedfellows” doesn’t even begin to describe that arrangement, the Giants and Jets have shared two stadiums in their history. So there’s precedent.
San Diego sports fans, of course, would hate to lose their beloved Chargers to Los Angeles, of all places. Go to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco Park in San Diego to see how the locals feel about their neighbors to the north.
Former Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts, now an outstanding NFL broadcaster for CBS, told USA TODAY, “It would be devastating (for the team to move). I just can’t even imagine San Diego without the Chargers being there.”
Like it or not, he might have to.
The Rams, meanwhile, are also plotting a return to their former stomping grounds. Their plan involves a new stadium in Inglewood. That city’s council in February agreed to partner with Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, on plans for a $2 billion project. Geez, what happened to the days of multi-million dollar stadiums?
Kroenke is one of pro sports’ richest owners; he also has the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids in his portfolio. He has the money to see the project through and estimates are that the Inglewood ballpark could be ready in time for the 2018 season. Maybe the Rams will have found a reliable quarterback by then.
The stadium would sit along the city’s riverfront. It won’t be the Mississippi River, but it will have to do. If that project is built, the Rams likely would move to Los Angeles alone.
Any team’s move to Los Angeles would require a three-quarters vote from their fellow owners and, we’re sure, a hefty relocation fee. Packing up and moving to Los Angeles would improve just about any team’s bottom line, so the other owners want to share the wealth. It’s only the right thing to do, you know.
The league would also enjoy putting the Los Angeles area back in the Super Bowl rotation. The NFL’s big game was last held in that area in 1993, when Dallas trounced Buffalo 52-17 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game MVP was Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who retired following the 2000 season. So you’re saying it’s been a while …
Since that Super Bowl, the game has been held in such hotspots as Jacksonville, Detroit and Indianapolis. The 2018 game has been promised to the new Minneapolis stadium. Los Angeles looks better and better all the time.
The race to put a team in Los Angeles will surely hold all the trappings of a dramatic film, filled with intrigue, plot twists, heroes and villains. Who will wind up with a Hollywood ending? We should find out soon.
Get central casting on the phone. This decision will be a blockbuster.
Troy Aikman photo: Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.