Yesterday, the Los Angeles city council cleared the final political obstacle to bringing an NFL franchise to the sports-laden town. Stadium developer and major stock holder in every major sports team in L.A., AEG, has been cleared to start construction on a $1.5 billion football stadium that would be located downtown. However, before construction can even begin, the city needs to convince one, or maybe two, NFL franchises to relocate.
AEG spokesman Tim Leiweke has made it clear that they are not looking to steal a team away from any fan base, but if owners have exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location, L.A. is ready for them. This has the potential to be a huge job and economic boost to the greater Los Angeles area, with the Staples Center having over 4 million visitors a year and the L.A. Live project (facilitator of the game support staff for L.A. franchises) creating 6,000 jobs already.
In my opinion, this is a huge game changer for the NFL. Now struggling, small-market teams have the opportunity to operate in a media mecca which has been itching to get an NFL team ever since the Oakland Raiders moved back to their home city after delivering a Super Bowl title. There has been speculation that the Minnesota Vikings were the prime target for L.A. investors to solicit to make the move, but with the Minnesota Legislature approving a new stadium there is no possible way that they are moving. So, that leaves us with the question of who will it be?
There’s the argument that why can’t AEG just create a new franchise? Well, business logic would dictate that it’s a lot easier to market an established brand than start new and take your chances. With that said, I think a great fit for L.A. would be either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the San Diego Chargers. There are a two reasons that I believe that these two teams would be fit for the move and they are: both franchises are tier-3 teams in value and neither have the established cache or branding that would make them palatable only in their current regions of the country (i.e. New England Patriots). With this said, the Jaguars would make the most sense to move because the Jacksonville/Ft. Lauderdale market has not embraced the franchise despite their multiple playoff appearances, and I believe with the right management they could bode much better in Los Angeles.
The Chargers, on the other hand, would have the more painless move to L.A., and they already have established pro-bowlers that would perform well on the larger stage. However, the Chargers have had an established relationship with the city of San Diego for the last half century, and it would be a little more difficult for them to make the transition than the Jaguars because of that reason. However, if Angelinos desired to have two franchises like AEG has proposed, I would have to believe that the Chargers would be one of the first tapped to move to the City of Angels.
Even though the intimate details have not been solidified, the city of L.A. has taken a great first step to bringing a valuable commodity to their already storied sports city. Angelinos deserve to have a football franchise to root for beyond the U.S.C. Trojans, and I believe that any team with non-regional specific appeal would be foolish to turn down the opportunity to play in L.A.