History of the National Football League in Los Angeles

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Professional American football, especially its established top level, the National Football League (NFL), has had a long history in Los Angeles, which is the center of the second-largest media market in the United States. Since the 1995 departure of the Raiders and Rams, Los Angeles has been by far the largest U.S. market without an NFL team. It is currently more than double the size of any other North American market to receive serious consideration for a team. The NFL and other professional leagues have had multiple teams in Los Angeles between 1946 and 1994, all of which originally played home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Currently, the nearest team for the area is the San Diego Chargers.

In 1946, the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference started play, lasting four years before folding with the demise of the AAFC. Also in 1946, the Cleveland Rams became the first NFL franchise to locate in Los Angeles. The Rams moved to Anaheim Stadium in 1980, and left Southern California altogether in 1995 for St. Louis. The American Football League (AFL) founded the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, who subsequently moved to San Diego the following year. The Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982, only to return to Oakland after the 1994 season.[1] There were problems with filling all of the 90,000-plus seats in the Coliseum to avoid a television blackout in the Los Angeles area.[1]

The lack of an NFL team in Los Angeles is an issue the league and the city have been working on to resolve since the Raiders and Rams left.[2] One key sticking point had been whether the Coliseum should be the primary venue for a new team, or whether a lower capacity NFL-specific stadium should be built in the area.[1] In November 2007, the then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the policy of requiring the NFL to relocate to the Coliseum will change and other options will be explored.[3]

The early years[edit]

The first NFL team to name itself after the city of Los Angeles was the Los Angeles Buccaneers in 1926. However, this was a road team, based in Chicago, made up of Californians, primarily University of California and University of Southern California alumni. Historian Michael McCambridge said that the Buccaneers became a road team because the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission had banned pro teams from its stadium.[4] However, the difficulty of transcontinental travel in the era before modern air travel must have also been a factor in the decision to base the team in the Midwest. The upstart American Football League also featured a similar Midwest-based road team of West Coast players, the Los Angeles Wildcats. Both Los Angeles teams performed respectably on the field but folded after the 1926 season. Ironically, the Wildcats' last game was an exhibition in San Francisco against the Buccaneers in January 1927.[5]

The first major professional football team to actually reside in Los Angeles was the Los Angeles Bulldogs, who operated both as an independent and as a member of several other leagues from approximately 1934 to 1948, in its later years reduced to minor status. The NFL had actually admitted the Bulldogs to the league for the 1937 NFL season, but reneged on the agreement because of travel concerns (the great distance between the Bulldogs and every other team, plus having to cross the Rocky Mountains in an era when travel by airplane was still a rare and hazardous endeavor, proved to be too much of a risk for the NFL to be willing to take).

The Continental Football League, a second-tier professional league active in the late 1960s, included the Orange County Ramblers among its teams.

The All Star Game/Pro Bowl and Super Bowl[edit]

The NFL played its first league All-Star Games (which later became known as the Pro Bowl) in Los Angeles. L.A.'s Wrigley Field hosted the first All-Star Game after the 1938 season.[citation needed] Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles hosted the 1939 and 1940 All-Star Games following the respective NFL seasons. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was the site of the Pro Bowl from 1950 through 1972. The 1979 Pro Bowl was also held at the Coliseum. In 1980, the Pro Bowl moved to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, where it has been held ever since, except in 2010 and 2015.

The first Super Bowl, known originally as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and retroactively as Super Bowl I, was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967. The Coliseum also hosted Super Bowl VII. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena has hosted Super Bowls XI, XIV, XVII, XXI, and XXVII.

NFL franchises in Los Angeles 1946–1994[edit]

The Los Angeles Rams[edit]

In 1946, the defending NFL champions, the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles.[6] The other league owners were not pleased with the move, but the league relented due in large part to concern that Los Angeles could potentially become the nucleus of a rival league. The Rams played home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which had originally been built to host the 1932 Summer Olympic Games and which was also the home of the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins. The Rams made history their first season in 1946, when they signed the NFL's first African-American players since the early 1930s: former UCLA stars Kenny Washington and Woody Strode.

Also in 1946, the upstart All-America Football Conference (AAFC) began play: the AAFC's Los Angeles Dons also played at the Coliseum. When the AAFC folded in 1950, the Dons went out of business, but the AAFC's San Francisco 49ers were admitted to the NFL. This provided the NFL with a workable pair of West Coast cities for travel.

Another AAFC franchise which moved over to the NFL was the Cleveland Browns, who were based in the city the Rams had deserted. The Browns and the Rams met in the 1950 NFL Championship Game, and the Browns won the game 30–28.

The Rams quickly became established as an NFL power, winning 7 straight divisional titles from 1973–1979, with top quarterbacks like Roman Gabriel and the legendary Fearsome Foursome, consisting of Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones.

Rams move to Anaheim[edit]

By 1979 the Rams were a successful franchise, and made it to their first Super Bowl that year. However, they had long been dissatisfied with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. For most of the Rams' tenure there, it was the largest stadium in the NFL, with over 90,000 seats. However, even in the Rams' best years, the cavernous venue sold out very infrequently, causing blackouts of Rams games on local TV. Additionally, it was located in in South Central Los Angeles, which was perceived as being one of the city's more dangerous neighborhoods; it had begun going to seed from the 1960s onward. The Coliseum also lacked adequate nearby parking. At various times they shared the stadium with both the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins football teams. Ownership (Carroll Rosenbloom, followed by his widow Georgia Frontiere) was unable to persuade the city to build a new stadium in Los Angeles, so they decided to move out of the Coliseum to Anaheim (28 miles southeast of downtown L.A.) in Orange County, which was then experiencing an enormous boom in population and construction.

Beginning in 1980, the Rams played in Anaheim Stadium, which already had a football press box built into the upper deck when it opened in 1966.[7] Further renovations included enclosing the facility by extending the stadium's three decks (the stadium had previously been open to the outside), and building luxury suites in the mezzanine "club" level.

Three teams had previously played home games in Anaheim Stadium prior to the Rams' move: the Southern California Sun of the World Football League and the now-defunct football programs at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. During the Rams' stay in Anaheim, they were the stadium's sole football tenant and shared it with the California Angels baseball team.

Rams move to St. Louis[edit]

In the early 1990s, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere began to shop around for a new home for her team, which was falling behind other NFL teams in luxury-box and other non-shared revenue. By the end of the 1994 season, talks had begun with St. Louis and Baltimore, two cities that had lost their original NFL franchises (the Cardinals and Colts, respectively), and had both been unsuccessful in efforts to obtain an expansion franchise the previous year; meanwhile, she was hoping that Anaheim and/or Orange County would also make an attractive offer. Anaheim, going through a recession, could not agree on a tax package to pay for the improvements that Frontiere insisted on, so they dropped out of the bidding. Rams fans, bothered by Frontiere talking to other cities about moving the franchise, voiced their anger by asking for her to sell the team, booing her and starting derogatory chants at games directed at her. Attendance began dwindling, due to frustration by the fans over ownership and the performance by the team on the field. Eventually, St. Louis gave Frontiere the offer she wanted, a brand-new $280 million domed stadium called the Trans World Dome (now known as the Edward Jones Dome) with a long-term lease and over 100 luxury boxes. The move was announced in February 1995 and approved by NFL owners that April. The Rams played their last game in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in 1994, losing 24–21 to the Washington Redskins in front of only 25,750 fans in attendance at Anaheim Stadium. During the 2009 offseason, following Frontiere's death, it was announced the Rams were for sale. It was considered possible that the next owner of the Rams could potentially move the team back to Los Angeles;[8] however, this prospect became much less likely when then-minority owner Stan Kroenke, a Missouri native and resident, acquired complete control in August 2010.[9]

The Los Angeles Raiders[edit]

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next received an NFL team in 1982, when the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles to become the Los Angeles Raiders. Team owner Al Davis relocated there without the approval of his fellow owners or NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. One major factor for Davis in moving to the Coliseum—despite its flaws as a football stadium—was his assumption that the NFL would eventually approve pay-per-view telecasts for its games; such a move would potentially have given the Raiders a virtual TV monopoly in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest TV market. Davis also counted on being able to persuade the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission to renovate the facility, particularly by installing scores of luxury boxes.

The Raiders continued the success they had in Oakland after the move south, winning Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984 and reaching the AFC Championship Game after the 1990 season. But the team gained a controversial reputation off the field, as its silver and black colors became associated with L.A.'s notorious street gangs. More importantly, the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission never gave Davis the lucrative package of amenities he had been promised, and the NFL's broadcast contracts never instituted pay-per-view. Additionally, due to concerns about the area around Exposition Park, the NFL scheduled all of the Raiders' appearances on Monday Night Football as road games, and would not even consider letting them play Monday night games in Anaheim. Eventually, Davis lost patience and entertained offer from Irwindale, California (east of downtown L.A.) in 1987, but did not move there.[10][11]

Prior to 1993, the Coliseum Commission approved multiple changes to enhance the stadium as a football facility: Capacity was reduced to around 68,000, the field was lowered, the surrounding running track was removed, bleachers were replaced by single seats, and locker rooms and fan restrooms were upgraded.[12]

The Coliseum briefly fielded another professional football team, the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League (USFL), from 1983 to 1985. The league played in the springtime, avoiding stadium conflicts with the NFL and the Raiders.

Raiders return to Oakland[edit]

Due in no small part to the decision by the Los Angeles Sports Commission to halt further planned renovations to the Coliseum due to repair costs generated by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Al Davis gave up on Los Angeles, and decided to accept a new stadium renovation offer from Oakland, California and to return to his team's former home. The renovation expanded the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to 63,000 seats and added 86 luxury boxes and thousands of club seats. The deal was announced on June 23, 1995 and approved by league owners on August 9 of that year. The Raiders, like the Rams, played their last game in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in 1994, losing 19–9 to the Kansas City Chiefs in front of 64,130 in attendance at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This is, to date, the last NFL regular-season game played in Los Angeles.

AFL franchise in Los Angeles[edit]

In 1960, the American Football League (AFL) was formed. The now-San Diego Chargers played their first season in Los Angeles, but moved to San Diego in 1961.

Reasons behind lack of LA team[edit]

Los Angeles as a bargaining chip[edit]

Many NFL teams use Los Angeles as a bargaining chip in order to get their cities to build new stadiums in their existing cities.[13][14] By 2015 more than half the league had threatened during the previous two decades to move there[15] during negotiations for new or renovated stadiums, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars,[16][17][18] and 27 NFL stadiums had been built or received at least $400 million in renovations.[16] According to NBC News,

The threat of moving a team to Los Angeles is more valuable for the NFL than actually placing a team there. It's the perfect bargaining chip for the league: Why would a franchise stay in, say, cold-weather, small-market Minnesota without a new stadium when big-market, celebrity-studded L.A. beckons?[13]

Sports economist John Vrooman of Vanderbilt University stated,

It is entirely possible that the L.A. football market has been more valuable to the N.F.L. empty than if it had been occupied since 1995 ... It is standard operating procedure for the N.F.L. commissioner and other concerned owners to drop the not-so-veiled threat of relocation to L.A.[19]

and a Yahoo! Sports contributor observed that

The NFL doesn't necessarily use Los Angeles as a bargaining chip with other cities, but whenever there is a stadium issue in another city, that team suddenly ends up on a list of franchises that could relocate to sunny Southern California. Convenient.[14]

Supporters of a Los Angeles NFL team agree that their city is, as Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks said, "used as a pawn". He added, "L.A. always comes into the equation whenever a city is looking for a new stadium. Lo and behold, shockingly, the stadium gets built and L.A. is not in the equation".[16] Fred Rosen said, "It's like the rabbit at the dog track. L.A.'s always chasing the rabbit, and the NFL has also used L.A. as the rabbit."[20] The lack of an NFL-quality stadium makes moving a team to Los Angeles risky because of the possibility of being forced to play in the obsolete Coliseum or Rose Bowl, but building a stadium without a team is financially and politically very difficult.[16]

Civic disinterest[edit]

The NFL remains popular on television in Los Angeles; 18 of the 20 most-popular programs from September 2014 to early November were NFL games. Without a local team, residents can usually watch the most appealing games each week; sports bars show many games at once, and employees wear varying apparel. A Los Angeles team might lower TV ratings.[19][22]

Residents choose teams around the country to support; David Carter, sports business professor at USC, compared area fans to "the NFL's version of the United Nations".[22] Many are from elsewhere in the United States and tend to support teams from their previous cities.[16][14] As of February 2015 10% of Los Angeles County residents who follow NFL Tweets follow the 49ers, 9% the Raiders, and 7% the Dallas Cowboys. In Orange County, the Chargers and Green Bay Packers are in second and third place. By contrast, in San Diego County 47% of NFL Twitter users follow the Chargers and no other team has more than 4.5%.[22]

Whether fans of other teams would support a new or relocated NFL team in Los Angeles is unclear.[22] The area already has very popular USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins football games, with much greater attendance than the Raiders had during the team's time in Los Angeles.[13] John C. Phillips of the University of the Pacific stated that "People in Los Angeles really do not have that sense of community and identity with sports teams. In Cleveland and Buffalo, people identify with the city; in Los Angeles, they don't".[21] During the Cleveland Browns' relocation to Baltimore in 1996 owner Art Modell received death threats. NBC News wrote that by contrast, "when the Raiders and Rams departed in 1994, Angelenos yawned before going surfing."[13]

NFL activity in L.A. since 1995[edit]

  • The NFL has maintained a limited presence in the market. NFL Network, the in-house cable and satellite network founded in 2003, is headquartered in nearby Culver City and players often visit its studio, especially in the offseason.
  • The NFL Players Association's "Rookie Premiere," in which first-year athletes pose for trading card pictures, is held annually at the Coliseum. The Coliseum also staged part of the league's opening-weekend celebrations in 2005.
  • The annual spring meeting of the NFL owners, where new rules are voted on and other issues are talked about, is usually held in the Los Angeles area in March.
  • The Dallas Cowboys host their training camp in the Los Angeles suburb of Oxnard on a rotating basis.

Major developments: 1996–2008[edit]

Within months of the moves of the Rams and Raiders, several NFL teams were rumored to be replacements. They included the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Seattle Seahawks. However, the Browns moved to become the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 amid major controversy, and a new Browns team occupied a new stadium in 1999. The Bengals, Buccaneers and Seahawks, meanwhile, used L.A.'s vacancy as leverage to convince their cities to help finance new stadiums.[citation needed]

In March 1996, Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring moved office equipment and some athletic gear to the elementary school in Anaheim that once held Rams practices, hoping to get approval for a permanent move to Southern California.[23] Because of an owners' revolt, Behring halted the process and moved the equipment back to Seattle. Eventually, Paul Allen bought the team and kept it in Seattle by building Seahawks Stadium, now known as CenturyLink Field.

Perhaps the closest Los Angeles has come to regaining the NFL was in 1999, when the NFL approved a new franchise, the league's 32nd, for Los Angeles, on the condition that the city and NFL agree on a stadium site and stadium financing.[24] Those agreements were never reached, and in October 1999, the franchise was awarded to a Houston ownership group instead, which formed the Houston Texans.

In 2001, a proposal was floated for a new stadium near Staples Center. The stadium and team would have been owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz and Hollywood scion Casey Wasserman, and the stadium would have been built with private funding. That died down quickly when it failed to get the support of the city council. In particular, Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes the Coliseum, never supported it.

In 2005, then-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt showed interest in a plan in which a new NFL stadium would be built next to Dodger Stadium. However, city officials expressed their displeasure with his idea in part to their favoritism of the repeatedly defunct Coliseum plan. McCourt stated that his idea was suitable if the most recent Coliseum plan were to fail. In addition, the NFL was also rumored to favor the Dodger Stadium proposal to the countless Coliseum ideas in the past.[25]

On November 7, 2006, voters in Pasadena overwhelmingly rejected a financing package that would have allocated money for a renovation of the Rose Bowl that would have accommodated an NFL team in fear of greatly increased traffic. The vote was 72% against, with 28% in support.[26]

In April 2008, developer Edward P. Roski Jr., a part owner of the NHL Kings and Lakers, proposed a stadium in the City of Industry.[2][27][28] In June 2008, reports surfaced that the City of Industry could become the home of the 49ers or Raiders by as early as 2010 when both teams' stadium leases expired, or could become home to another team.[29]

Major developments: 2009–present[edit]

Other developments since 2009 have included:

  • On December 1, 2009, in an interview for KTTV (Fox 11), John Semcken of Majestic Realty Co.—(the developer for the Los Angeles Stadium in Industry)—stated that there was a 50/50 chance of a team returning for the 2010 season and a 100% chance for the 2011 season. The teams explicitly mentioned in the interview were the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, and St. Louis (formerly Los Angeles) Rams. The interview occurred shortly after the California State Legislature and the governor approved plans for the stadium, but several months before Stan Kroenke became sole owner of the Rams.[30]
  • In mid-season of 2011, news regarding several teams involved in potential expansion broke. It was reported that Malcolm Glazer, then the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a franchise located in a metropolitan area with some of the lowest attendance figures in multiple pro sports, including football, had talked with officials in L.A. Nothing was made official, and Glazer also had ties to England (before his death in 2014, he also owned Manchester United, and his sons inherited his interests in both clubs), where there was a small but growing conversation about potential NFL relocation. Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver sold the team to Shahid Khan; Khan had unsuccessfully attempted to buy the Rams. Khan gave a verbal, but non-binding, commitment to keep the team in Jacksonville. Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died during the same season, passing the majority ownership of the team to his wife and son. In early 2012, the Davis family acknowledged negotiations with the L.A. groups, but were dissatisfied with both of the proposals; Los Angeles remains an option along with San Antonio, Texas.[31]
  • In March 2012, Yahoo! Sports reported on a meeting between the league management and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), in which it became clear that none of the NFL's owners were willing to agree to the terms AEG was putting forth for the relocation of a team to Los Angeles. Neither AEG nor the league confirmed the meeting, which, if true, would jeopardize the project unless AEG were to make concessions.[32] At the same time, the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers expressed interest in bringing the NFL to Chavez Ravine, current location of Dodger Stadium.[33]
  • On April 18, 2012, after a Minnesota Legislature committee rejected a public financing proposal for proposed new Minnesota Vikings stadium, the league met with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton to discuss the potential sale and relocation of the Vikings franchise.[34] Soon after, Wilf met with Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa regarding the same topic, and indicated he would not renew the Vikings' lease on the Metrodome without a plan for a new stadium.[35] After a re-vote, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a stadium financing bill on May 8, albeit with less money than the Vikings were seeking.[36] The Senate passed the bill May 10, at which point the Vikings indicated they would be willing to accept the terms. This effectively eliminated the Vikings from the threat of relocation.[37]
  • In January 2014, the Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a holding company affiliated with Rams owner Stan Kroenke had purchased a 60-acre (24 ha) tract in Inglewood between The Forum and Hollywood Park, with the Times indicating that the land could be a possible location for a new stadium. The Rams' lease at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis states that if the venue is not one of the NFL's eight best by the end of the 2014 season, the lease will convert to a year-to-year deal. In 2012, the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission proposed a $124 million upgrade; the Rams countered with a $700 million proposal. An arbitrator ruled in favor of the Rams in February 2013, and the commission soon announced that it would not pursue any upgrade, leading to speculation about Kroenke's plans for the team.[38]
  • In August 2014, it became known that multibillionaire Eli Broad was one of at least two Los Angeles-based parties to consider placing a bid on the Buffalo Bills with the intent of relocating the team to Los Angeles. Broad declined to place a bid, determining that the league would never approve of moving the Bills and such a move would bring too much scrutiny from politicians.[39] The team was later sold to Buffalo Sabres owner and billionaire Terrence Pegula who plans to keep the team in Buffalo long term (as Pegula's wife also owns a significant portion of the team, this would effectively eliminate the Bills from the pool of potential relocation candidates for the next several decades).
  • In October 2014, San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos said that adding a Los Angeles team "would really be harmful to us", given that "25 to 30% of our business comes from the L.A. / Orange County areas".[40] The team nonetheless refuses to break its lease on its stadium in San Diego (it has had that opportunity every year since 2007 and has refused every time) and insists it is still working on building a new stadium in that vicinity.[41]
  • On January 30, 2015, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference two days before the Super Bowl. In his press conference, Goodell stated that multiple teams have expressed an interest in relocating to Los Angeles, but that the league had made "no determination" about any particular team moving to Los Angeles in the future.[42]

Potential league expansion[edit]

In 2012, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on Costas Live on NBC Sports Network to discuss a possibility of football in L.A. Goodell said that he wouldn't like any team to relocate to the city. The commissioner said that if L.A. were to get a team, the league would have to expand to 34 teams.[43]With no other non-NFL markets in the United States anywhere close to Los Angeles in size, adding two expansion teams simultaneously in Los Angeles is one solution that has been explored. The perceived benefits of such a solution include the possibility of two owners being able to share the costs for a new stadium (similar to what was done for New York's two teams), in addition, adding two teams to Los Angeles at the same time would preclude the possibility of one team having to pay any sort of territorial indemnity to the other.

Proposed stadiums[edit]

Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger championed a new football stadium in Anaheim in tandem with a new L.A. Coliseum. There are reports, however, that NFL owners will not approve a return to the L.A. area until two teams commit to play in a single new stadium (similar to the New York Giants and New York Jets, first in Giants Stadium and since 2010 in MetLife Stadium).[44] Due to worldwide increases in the prices of steel, concrete and fuel some cost estimates for new stadiums have exceeded $1 billion.[45] As a result, it will be difficult for the league to privately finance one stadium, let alone two.[46] In response to rising cost estimates for a new stadium, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that returning the NFL to Los Angeles will require the league to consider unspecified "alternative solutions."[47]

The National Football League is not planning on expanding, so one or more teams would have to relocate to justify any new stadium projects. The three teams which used to play in Los Angeles but moved elsewhere (the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams) have all been rumored to be open to moving back. Four other teams— Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and the San Francisco 49ers — had also been identified as possible prime tenants of a new stadium.[48][49] As previously mentioned, the Vikings were removed from relocation consideration after agreeing to a 30-year lease on a new Minnesota stadium in 2012. The Raiders' lease expires in 2013. The Rams and Chargers, although both are in long-term leases, both have escape clauses written in their current stadium leases; the Jaguars do not.[50] On April 19, 2012, groundbreaking for a new stadium for the 49ers in the city of Santa Clara was held,[51] hence insuring that the team would remain in the San Francisco Bay Area.[51] The new Santa Clara stadium is also a possible relocation candidate for the Raiders.

Near the end of the 2010 season, two of those seven teams suffered severe problems with their current facilities. The roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsed after record-breaking snowfall in December 2010, forcing the Minnesota Vikings to play their last two home games elsewhere. The first game was delayed one day and was moved to Ford Field in Detroit. The second one was played as scheduled in Minneapolis on Monday Night Football, but it was moved across town to TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Also in December 2010, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego flooded, although no Chargers home games were moved or delayed as a result. These issues led to plans to build new stadiums for the Vikings and the Chargers. In May 2012, however, speculation that the Minnesota Vikings would move to Los Angeles officially ended after a financial package providing for the construction of a new stadium in Minneapolis was approved by both the Minnesota State Legislature and the Minneapolis City Council.[52][53]

In an April 2015 interview on ‘’CBS This Morning’’, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would choose one of the two stadium proposals proposals, a stadium proposal in Inglewood by the St. Louis Rams and another in Carson by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.[54] Goodell had said earlier in 2015 that, despite the stadium proposals, the league was “not focused” on bringing NFL back to Los Angeles for the 2016 NFL season, and any Los Angeles team in 2016 would “have to play in a temporary facility.”[55]

Other than Los Angeles, the NFL has returned to every city it vacated in the modern era (Oakland, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland and Houston). The 2009 NFL season was L.A.'s 15th year with no franchise, thus eclipsing Oakland for the longest duration in the modern era that a former NFL city has lacked a franchise, and at the start of the 2015 NFL season, L.A. has had 21 years without an NFL team.

Stadium proposals under consideration[edit]


On January 31, 2014, both the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased approximately 60 acres of land adjacent to the Forum in Inglewood, California. Kroenke subsequently announced plans to build an NFL stadium on the site, in connection with the owners of the adjacent 238-acre Hollywood Park site, Stockbridge Capital Group.[56] The land was initially targeted for a Walmart Supercenter but Walmart could not get the necessary permits to build it. Kroenke's wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, is a member of the Walton family and many[quantify] of Kroenke's real estate deals have involved Walmart properties.[citation needed]

On January 5, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stan Kroenke and Stockbridge Capital Group were jointly developing a new NFL stadium on the Inglewood property owned by Kroenke. On February 24, 2015, Inglewood City Council approved plans for the stadium with construction planned to begin in mid-December this year, with or without a commitment from the Rams, and avoiding a public vote on June 2 in the process.[57][58][59]

Main article: Carson Stadium

On February 19, 2015, the Chargers and Raiders announced plans for a privately-financed $1.7 billion stadium that the two teams would build in Carson, California if they were to move to the Los Angeles market.[60] Both teams stated that they would continue to attempt to get stadiums built in their respective cities.[61]

Due to both television contracts, NFL bylaws, and both teams being in the same division if both of the longstanding division rivals were to move to LA, one of the teams would have to move to the National Football Conference and the NFC West, something that Mark Davis volunteered the Raiders to be willing to do. Davis's father and Raiders founder Al Davis was a staunch opponent of the NFL before the merger. If such a realignment were to occur, one of the existing NFC West teams would take their spot in the AFC West, with the Seattle Seahawks being the most likely candidate.[62]

On April 22, 2015, the Carson City Council bypassed the option to put the stadium to public vote and approved the plan 3-0. On May 5, 2015, Carson City Council unanimously voted to issue $50 million to finish environmental cleanup on the site. On May 19, 2015 the Chargers and Raiders announced that they have finalized a land deal to secure land in Carson which the site was transferred the site to the joint powers authority in Carson after the 157-acre site was purchased by Carson Holdings a company set up by the two teams.[63]

Past proposals[edit]

Coliseum renovation[edit]

A renovated Coliseum would seat 65,000 for most major events, expanding to about 80,000 for Super Bowls and University of Southern California (USC) home games. The Coliseum would retain the peristyle section and columns that are part of the current stadium, in a design similar to Soldier Field in Chicago, which is the home of the Chicago Bears. This stadium was supported by then California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Los Angeles City Council approved a preliminary financing plan and environmental impact report in 2006. But the Exposition Park area still carries safety concerns among some fans.

In October 2006, a new doubt was cast over the Coliseum's future as a possible venue, as reports surfaced that the Coliseum Commission was negotiating to hand over control of the stadium to USC, which could preclude any plans to renovate the stadium for the NFL.[64][65] Pat Lynch, the Coliseum's general manager, claimed in a panel discussion in December 2006 that the true cost of a new Coliseum would be closer to $650 million.[66]

Dodger Stadium site[edit]

The Dodger Stadium parking lot has been discussed by NFL owners, in private, as possibly being the best site in Southern California to build a new professional football stadium. Officials with the Dodgers and the NFL met in secret twice in 2005 to discuss the possibility of constructing a stadium and retail complex adjacent to Dodger Stadium. The 49ers' current home, Levi's Stadium, was built in the parking lot of a venue. After the Boston Herald reported the details of the plan, political pressure forced both the NFL and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to deny that either party was aggressively pursuing the idea.[67]

City of Industry[edit]
Main article: Los Angeles Stadium

Edward P. Roski, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings, announced plans for a new stadium on the northern side of the interchange of State Routes 57 and 60 (almost 22 miles (35 km) east of downtown LA) with the purpose of attracting a team to the Los Angeles region. Roski, who built the Staples Center, stated that the new 75,000-seat stadium, a part of a 600-acre entertainment and retail project, would all be privately financed and be the centerpiece of a new entertainment complex in the City of Industry.[68][69] The project was cleared to begin construction, though it is waiting on the negotiations of the NFL's commitment to relocate a team (or possibility two) to Los Angeles.

Downtown Los Angeles[edit]
Main article: Farmers Field

Casey Wasserman and Tim Leiweke have investigated the probability of building a 72,000-seat stadium behind Staples Center, where the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center now sits. In December 2010, Leiweke set a deadline anticipating a cleared negotiation with Los Angeles over control of the current convention center and ownership of the land and an agreement with the NFL over the likelihood of a team moving to Los Angeles.[70] AEG owner Philip Anschutz discussed potential relocation with three teams: former Los Angeles teams: San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders. The Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and San Francisco 49ers were also considered as relocation candidates.[71][72] On August 9, 2011, the LA City Council approved plans to build Farmers Field in a 12-0 vote, with a plan to open a stadium as early as 2016.[73] On March 9, 2015, AEG announced it would not seek an extension to the deadline for an agreement with a team set for April 17 that year, effectively shutting down the proposal.[74]

Non NFL gridiron football activity[edit]

  • The Anaheim Piranhas were a member of the Arena Football League and played in the Los Angeles suburb from 1996 to 1997; it folded after owner C. David Baker was promoted to league commissioner.
  • The Los Angeles Avengers were a member of the Arena Football League from 2000 to 2009, when the league suspended operations.[75] The league would be revived in 2010, but (initially) without a Los Angeles-area team.
  • The LA KISS, a team owned by and branded after the band of the same name, began play in the Arena Football League in 2014. While nominally representing the city, the team plays in Anaheim.[76]
  • The Los Angeles Xtreme won the only championship in the brief history of the XFL, in 2001.
  • The United Football League had committed to a Los Angeles franchise (possibly with Mark Cuban as its owner) for its 2009 season and, when the league cut back the number of teams it planned to launch from six to four, had planned to have the team that became the Las Vegas Locomotives play one of its home games in the Home Depot Center in preparation for a full-time Los Angeles team in 2010. However, the league later dropped their plan to play at the Home Depot Center in 2009 and, by the time the league failed in October 2012, had not established a team in the city as promised.
  • The Los Angeles Temptation of the Legends Football League (known as the Lingerie Football League before 2013) played its first two full seasons (2009 and 2010) in the city (specifically the LA Memorial Coliseum) before relocating to the Inland Empire in 2011. The Temptation still refer to themselves as a Los Angeles team.
  • Los Angeles had been named to have a franchise in the relaunch of the USFL, which will have Sean Salisbury as coach,[77] but the league opening has experienced frequent internal turmoil and has yet to have any significant development.[78]

In fiction[edit]

In the season 7 Entourage episode "Buzzed", the fictional Hollywood agent Ari Gold is offered to run an NFL franchise in Los Angeles after he impresses the NFL board, but fails to win the contract to sell the NFL media rights.

In season 3 of Psych, an episode revolves around a murder of a player on the fictional L.A. Thunderbirds NFL team that holds their training camp in Santa Barbara.

In the 1984 film Against All Odds, Jeff Bridges's character plays for a fictional team, the L.A. Outlaws.

The 1991 action film The Last Boy Scout revolves around a fictional team, the L.A. Stallions.

In the 1978 film Heaven Can Wait, Warren Beatty is the quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams.

The 2011 book Between the Lies by Marv Levy has a fictional NFL team from Los Angeles called the Los Angeles Leopards as one of the best teams in the NFL, along with the Portland Pioneers.[79]

The 2008 Midway Games video game Blitz: The League II featured a team called the L.A. Riot who played in Los Angeles and was the antagonist to the player-created team.

In the Mike Lupica book "Fantasy League", the team in the book is the LA Bulldogs.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]