The push for an NFL team returning to the city of Los Angeles has gained even more momentum in recent days with the revelation that there will be a new stadium constructed in downtown L.A. as the result of a deal between Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Farmers Insurance. The new state-of-the-art facility will be located next to the Staples Center (the home of the Los Angeles Lakers) on a prime piece of real estate. This $700 million blockbuster paves the way for professional football to make its long awaited return to one the United States’ largest markets.
How could this possibly be a bad thing?
Perhaps the team topping the hit list of clubs targetted to make the move to Farmers Field in the near future are just down the coast. The San Diego Chargers are among a handful of teams expected to be coveted by AEG to help fill their stadium with fans once it is constructed and operational within the next five years.
Rumblings of such a move have been present in the league for the last decade, but not until now has the plan been put into action and the capital been raised to make such a dream reality. The corporate funding in a metropolis the size of L.A. is undeniable and dwarfs that of San Diego, but the Bolts aren’t the only team on the short list of clubs likely to be poached from their current locations across the country.
The Minnesota Vikings have to be mentioned in this conversation as a team with an expiring lease at the Metrodome (assuming that stadium is still structurally safe after the snow storm that collapsed the inflatable roof back in December). Zygi Wilf is a progressive new generation owner for the Vikes and rumor has it that the league would be looking for more than one team to play in its new biggest and best facility. The chances of Minnesota getting a new stadium in such a harsh environment are difficult to truly assess so they remain a strong candidate for relocation.
Another franchise clearly on the bubble is the Jacksonville Jaguars who until late this season were having troubles selling out on a week-to-week basis. Jacksonville is a small market without many big time capital producers and their ability to support a professional sports franchise has always been somewhat in doubt. Again the two team mantra from the NFL keeps the Jags in the conversation as a potential team moving to the west coast.
California is home to the three other teams in the crosshairs for a move to the city of angels as the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and our Bolts are each clearly targets as well. All three squads have had troubles filling the seats over the past few seasons and could use an influx of big market cash to keep their bottom line in the black.
As for what the big-wigs involved have been saying about the situation in San Diego, League Commissioner Roger Goodell has maintained the same rhetoric reiterating his intentions this past week at the Super Bowl saying: “We want to keep our teams where they are. Chargers have been committed to staying for eight years. Spent time and money doing so. We need to find a solution to the stadium issue in San Diego.”
Clearly resolving the stadium issue in San Diego tops the list of concerns, anyone even slightly close to the situation is aware of these hurdles. Still the progress seems to be little more than talk at this point as Chargers President and C.E.O. Dean Spanos has maintained a similar stance of late saying: "We have a downtown site we've been working on for over a year. We have a great dialogue with the city. They continue to expand on this opportunity that exists down there. There are challenges, no doubt about it. We haven't given up, and we're going to continue on this path.”
What continuing on this path actually means is open to interpretation however as the lingering concerns over the expiring collective bargaining agreement (CBA) have taken center stage of late. These two entities are actually somewhat interconnected believe it or not with the NFL’s fund for aiding teams in building new facilities buried deep inside the fine print of the CBA.
A fund known as the G3 fund was created by the league in the previous CBA to help teams trying to finance the construction of a new stadium. Unfortunately that account dried up with the league shelling out major dollars to the New York Giants/Jets to help with their new building. The $300 million given in 2006 to those franchises wiped out the G3 and has left teams like the 49ers and Chargers looking for some help of their own out of luck.
With CBA talks ongoing this offseason and plenty of rhetoric flying in all directions concerning just what percentages players and owners are splitting up in the new deal, keep your eyes on the G3 fund and just how it is structured in the new arrangement. This could be the key to keeping the Chargers in their rightful home of San Diego for years to come.
Now let’s hear from you. Do you think the return of the NFL to Los Angeles is long-overdue or is it just another money grab by the league? With the league reportedly targeting two teams to make the move to L.A., which clubs do you feel are the most likely to call the city of angels ‘home’? Is the rhetoric from both Goodell and Spanos just window dressing or do you believe that the league and team ownership actually want to remain in San Diego? Will the ongoing CBA talks help or hurt the Chargers’ chances of staying in San Diego long-term? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
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