Monday, March 2, 2009

Is the NFL coming back to LA?

I recently saw this story, on

This story is an intriguing one to me. Right off the bat, I'm excited to see that a city in the LA area is finally willing to get a modern stadium built in order to bring an NFL team to LA. But ultimately, I know that there are many other ways to look at the situation:

1) This is awesome! LA has been hurting for an NFL team to call its own since both the Raiders and Rams left the area. I'm stoked to see that some city (Carson, Anaheim, LA and Long Beach had all been thrown around as possibilities) finally pulled something off to get the ball rolling on bringing the NFL back to LA.

2) The article mentions that there are "at least 8 franchises" that would consider making the move to LA and named the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders as the obvious candidates. The Raiders I can understand, they've played in LA before and there are still a bunch of die-hard Raider fans in the area. Plus, the harder cultures in parts of LA (especially East LA, where the proposed stadium will be) can easily connect with the Raiders' identity. And if the Raiders really are having trouble with Oakland, then it makes sense.

But c'mon, the Bills? I know that would make Erin happy (well, assuming they remained the Bills, but with Buffalo no longer a part of their name, it’s highly doubtful that they'd keep the name or mascot), but it would absolutely crush the city of Buffalo. With their crippled economy, the Bills and Sabres are about all this town has left to be proud of. Losing half of their identity would surely have the city’s survival on life-support. It would be heart-breaking to see a city essentially die before our eyes because their last remaining shred of dignity and hope skipped town for the golden sunshine of Southern California.

It's also no secret that Zygi Wilf wants a new stadium for his Vikings, and if Minnesota wont give it to him, it seems he'd have no trouble pulling strings to move them to LA. However, this is another area (like Buffalo) that has its identity attached to their team. I can't imagine a team like the Vikings not being in Minnesota. Granted, hockey is king up there, but what would Minnesota and Wisconsin have to bicker about if there were no Vikings to play the Packers? The NFC North just wouldn't be the same. That's one of the most storied divisions in all of the NFL with names like Payton, Butkus, Sanders, Tarkenton, Carter, Starr, Nitschke, Lombardi and Purple People Eaters as recognizable as the teams they were affiliated with. The Great Lakes just wouldn't be the same without a Vikings team in the mix. Plus it would be difficult to imagine a mascot like "Vikings" aligning with the beach/desert of California, it just doesn't fit.

Other names I've heard rumors of in the past were the Colts (but they just got a shiny new dome in Indy), the Chargers (I can't imagine San Diego letting them get away), the Jaguars (this makes sense, such a small market out in Jacksonville), Saints (New Orleans needs them too much), and the Rams (a wonderful homecoming for a team that should never have left, though the team did originate in Cleveland).

I realize that with the expense and difficulty of starting a new franchise, the most cost-effective option is to relocate a team. But that could just turn ugly (see, Seattle Supersonics or Cleveland Browns). With the way most NFL teams are now so established, it would be a shame to see a city lose a significant part of their identity and revenue.

The only real alternative to relocation would be (as mentioned before) an expansion franchise. But that option doesn't seem to likely because of the expense, not to mention the monkey wrench it throws in the current division alignment (we can't have an odd number of teams!). So that would mean finding another city to host another team to round it out, but again, there's extra costs involved in that option.

So I'd just like to apologize in advance to the rest of the country for LA again raping and pillaging other cities to take something so dear to them only to make it an ensemble cast member in an already crowded LA sports scene of 2 hockey teams, 2 baseball teams, 2 basketball teams and two NCAA Div 1/FBS universities. Which brings me to my next point...

3) Does LA really want an NFL team? Since the Raiders and Rams have left, LA has hardly skipped a beat. With all of the other sports and entertainment options all year long, the fact that football isn't one of them makes few notice. Yes, California produces and has produced a lot of quality football talent. But as a recent survey by ESPN has shown, that's mostly because of sheer volume. With a population of almost 37 million people (larger than many countries) we're bound to produce some good and great athletes. But we're nowhere near the football crazed kinda people Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and many others are (which is disappointing to me personally). We've got too much sun and surf to care.

And without the NFL, the Trojans and Bruins fill the void for most football fans in the area. Around here, you're either one or the other, and that seems to be good enough for most people. Though there are still some lingering sentiments toward the Raiders and Rams. Most of the rest of NFL fans in LA root for other NFL teams. It's usually because LA is a magnet to people from other places, so those migrants hold on to their old allegiances. For example, you can find people wearing gear of and cheering for 10 different teams at any sports bar in the area.

Ultimately, I personally think it would be great to have a nice shiny new stadium in the LA area with a competitive NFL team or two to fill it (can you imagine two NFL expansion teams, both in LA?), but I'm scared that it will come at the cost of another fanbase's happiness. Like I said, no one needs a repeat of the Seattle incident.


  1. 1st of all Greg its Ray Nitschke you may want to check your spelling when you talk about a HOF guy. 2nd LA has already stolen a team from MN. The only thing is if you do that the Rams would have to switch divisions with Vikings. After living in SEC country for a few years now I wouldn't feel to bad in taking Jax or N.O., college football is king. Good rant.

    Jon Cox

  2. I did look up Nitschke and thought I had it right. I guess it was the wrong one...