Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an environmental exception bill clearing the way for a purposed $800 million NFL stadium complex to be built in Industry,
Calif., 15 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. The stadium complex, which will include office buildings, an orthopedic hospital, movie theaters and a shopping mall, will be privately funded by Los Angeles Billionaire Ed Roski and his company Majestic Realty. The lone public expenditure would be a $150 million bond measure designated to improve the infrastructure system in and around the stadium site. Roski, who is seeking to become majority owner of a Los Angeles NFL team, would break ground on the venture as soon as a deal was struck to move an existing franchise back to the nation’s second largest market.
From a league standpoint, the ultra popular NFL is interested in seeing a team relocate to
Los Angeles because of the television rating void that exists within this immense population base. The NFL would also like to once again hold Super Bowls in
Los Angeles. The area has hosted seven Super Bowls, two at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and five at the Rose Bowl in
Despite the opinion of many people outside of Southern California,
Los Angeles area residents have a strong interest in the NFL; however, because of the transient nature of the area, this following exists not just for one local team. If one were to visit a sports bar on a Sunday during the fall, they would see a packed house filled with fans watching the Cowboys, Steelers, Giants, Bears and all the other teams that represent the hometowns of these transplants. The NFL television rating for the
Los Angeles market is 7.2. This is pretty good for a city that does not have a team of its own and has so many of its NFL viewers watching games at bars and via satellite TV packages.
A remarkable aspect of LA’s NFL demographic involves the idea that native born Angelenos are much bigger fans of college football then NFL football. This is very unique for a large city not located in the Southeastern part of the
United States. USC drew nearly 90,000 people for its October 24 victory vs.
OregonState and UCLA drew more than 67,000 for its October 17 loss to the
Berkeley. This area’s passion for college football was made abundantly clear by the 157,000 people that attended two different teams’ games in consecutive weeks.
Roski has targeted seven teams that are either struggling with attendance or currently seeking government assistance for outdated or poor revenue generating stadiums. These teams are the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. The last two teams listed are by far the greatest long shots in this process. Both the Bills and the Vikings are extremely well supported in their local markets. The reason they are mentioned in the discussion is because of the antiquated stadiums both teams call home. The Vikings in particular will never leave
Minnesota because no sitting politican will allow the state’s most popular institution to leave on their watch. The Minneapolis/St. Paul market has averaged a 35.8 television rating for each of the Vikings games so far in 2009. As a native Minnesotan, I can assure Angelenos that Adrian Peterson and company will not be moving West to play in this proposed stadium.
It is interesting to note that the first four teams mentioned on the list of candidates are either California teams or a team that used to play right here in Southern California, though the Rams have no chance of moving back because their ownership group is only seeking investors who want to keep the team in
The Chargers, Raiders and 49ers play in the oldest stadiums in the NFL. The reason for this is that during good or bad economic times
California and its citizens will never approve public financing for the construction of sports stadiums. The governments of places like Houston, St. Louis, Cleveland and
Baltimore chose to open their wallets as wide as the NFL wanted in order to bring teams back to places that watched franchises relocate due to unhappiness with their stadium situations. In
California, the only way for a new stadium to be built is through private financing. Recent examples include the
StaplesCenter in Los Angeles,
PETCOPark in San Diego and
The likelihood of the 49ers leaving the Bay Area is very small because they have the distinction of being the original
Northern California team. The team currently plays in the very outdated
CandlestickPark and they have been seeking a new stadium option for many years. The team is hoping to build a new stadium near California’s Great America amusement park down the road from their offices in
Santa Clara, Calif.
It is also quite unlikely the Raiders will relocate back to
Los Angeles for a myriad of reasons. Despite the large fan following that still exists for the Raiders in the Southern part of the state, a move by the Raiders would represent the third move back and forth from
Oakland to LA by historic and controversial owner Al Davis. Even the eccentric
Davis probably does not want his team to look like more of a vagabond franchise than a historic team. People sometimes forget the immense success of the Raiders because of the hapless manner in which they presently play football. Plus, the NFL will fight even harder than it has in the past in not allowing
Davis to continually relocate his team.
This leaves the Chargers and Jaguars as the most probable teams to potentially relocate to Industry. The Chargers played in
Los Angeles during its inaugural season in the old American Football League in 1960. After one season, they moved to
San Diego and in 1967 they began playing in what is now called Qualcomm Stadium. The team used to share the facility with the Padres before they moved to
PETCOPark. Team ownership has been unsuccessful in seeking a publicly funded new stadium throughout many locations of
San DiegoCounty. If these attempts continue to fail, it is not out of the realm of possibility for the Chargers to move North to Los Angeles, where they would suddenly have the largest combined market in the NFL, as they would be the only team amid
Southern California’s 20 million people.
The Jaguars became
Jacksonville’s first professional sports franchise in 1995. Despite early success on the field, the team has seen a decrease in ticket sales and overall fan loyalty since the late 1990’s. Jacksonville’s close proximity to the
FloridaStateUniversity has made the city historically more loyal to college football. This occurrence, combined with inconsistent play on the field, a relatively small population base and a lack of a corporate community for which to buy luxury suites and sponsorships has made the Jaguars existence very challenging. After a very disappointing 2008 season, combined with the recession that has hit
Florida very hard, the fundamental roadblocks that have always existed for the Jaguars have come to a head. This season, all their home games will be blacked out because they are unable to sell out their stadium and corporate sponsorships are at an all-time low. This is a struggling franchise, whose owner, Wayne Weaver, may look to cut his losses. The NFL would almost certainly not stand in the way of a Jaguar relocation from the Eastern most point of Interstate 10 to the Western most area of the freeway.