So, Los Angeles goes 20 years without an NFL team and then in a week fills headlines with possibilities of two stadiums and three potential teams.
How dramatic and conspicuous.
Bad for fans in three cities. But maybe it’s good for those eyeing another good West Coast rivalry for the Seattle Seahawks.
Having witnessed the other side of stadium extortion/relocation gambit, those of us in Western Washington first offer sympathies to the loyal fans of the potential emigrants: St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
The Rams heading to a new home in Inglewood, California — which appears to be the most likely and imminent prospect — would be slick and most likely positive for Seattle fans.
Sorry about that, St. Louis.
Another true West Coast rivalry will add to the appeal of the annual schedule. Travel will be slightly easier for the team, as well as for fans.
And, frankly, the Rams’ Edward Jones Dome in recent years has felt like a mausoleum, with a middling team playing in front of smallish crowds. It has not been a great environment. And the Seahawks haven’t always done well there.
No tinkering with conference alignments would be required for a Rams move.
If it’s the Chargers and Raiders moving to L.A., to share a proposed new stadium in Carson, we could wonder if the NFL would object to two AFC teams in the same city, which probably wouldn’t maximize the appeal of broadcasting in the country’s second-largest market.
Shifting one to the NFC would then involve both CBS and Fox broadcasts but would force realignment, which is rarely without some controversy.
During Super Bowl week, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about candidates for the L.A. market.
“We have several alternatives that we’re evaluating from a site standpoint,” Goodell said. “There are teams that are interested but are trying to work their issues out locally. As a league, we haven’t gotten to that stage, yet, and it will all be subject to our relocation policy.”
But the talk is heating up.
Within the past week, the town of Inglewood approved construction of an 80,000-seat privately funded football facility. The owner of the property and the money behind the project is Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams.
A day later, the Raiders and the Chargers released a joint statement, professing their intent to continue to work toward stadium upgrades in their current locations but also examining the contingency of sharing a nearly $2 billion facility proposed for Carson, a suburb between L.A. and Long Beach.
NFL owners love this sort of leverage.
How much NFL would L.A. support, though? Fair to remember that both the Rams and Raiders moved out of L.A. once already.
And what happens to the Carson project if the Rams beat them to it in Inglewood, as seems the most likely scenario?
Kroenke already has the land. And Inglewood approved the construction.
Goodell made it clear that nothing was in the works for 2015. But the year after? The Rams surely could find a temporary home at the Rose Bowl or L.A. Coliseum until the new stadium is finished.
A Forbes article this week outlined a scenario that seemed plausible: The Inglewood stadium comes together first, and both the Rams and Raiders end up there in 2017.
That would bring back to L.A. an NFC and AFC team, with no need for realignment.
As for the Chargers, that scenario would leave them the losers in the game of relocation roulette.
The San Diego fans might feel some alienation at a team that tried to leave them.
But that will be a lot better than how NFL fans in St. Louis and Oakland are going to feel.