Goodell updates Toronto, L.A. situations

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I wanted to pass along a couple of remarks NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made Friday at his annual Super Bowl state-of-league news conference.

The comments indirectly pertained to the future of the Buffalo Bills and suggest that two of the cities most mentioned as possible relocation destinations for the franchise aren't prepared to be NFL cities at the moment because of stadium issues.

Goodell was asked separate questions about whether Toronto and Los Angeles were feasible for the NFL.

The Bills exported eight games -- three exhibitions and five regular-season games -- to Toronto over five years for $78 million.

"As you know, Toronto is a great market," Goodell said. "The Bills are playing up there on an annual basis in a regular-season game, and then every other year with a preseason game. I think we want to continue to service that market. We have great fans there. I think it's a great city.

"I think they are going to be facing -- and I've talked to some of the leadership up there -- potentially a stadium issue that is going to have to be addressed. Their current stadium, as you know, is a multipurpose stadium and has a relatively small capacity by NFL standards. So I think there are some issues that would have to be addressed up there, but it's a great market."

As for Los Angeles, Goodell stressed the importance of returning to the nation's second-largest market to enhance revenues. But Goodell expressed concern over the ability to get a stadium built at a time when the economy is hurting and a lockout seems likely in 2011.

Last month, hopeful developers told the Associated Press the first two teams they would target for relocation to a proposed stadium 25 miles east of Los Angeles were the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I don't think we can guarantee a team will be [in Los Angeles]," Goodell said. "I think we are working hard to get a team back into the Los Angeles market because we know there are millions of fans that would love to see NFL football as part of their community, and I think progress is being made.

"The good news I think is that at least clearance has been given to getting a stadium built, but [the challenge is] financing a facility in this kind of an environment. And with the labor agreement that we have, the cost of building that stadium is almost entirely on the ownership, and that is a big burden to pay, particularly in this kind of environment.

"But that's exactly the kind of investment that if we work together between the [NFL] Players Association and the clubs that we can develop a relationship that will allow us to invest in those kinds of facilities. It will generate new revenue. It will allow the game to grow, allow us to get back and engage millions of fans in southern California, and that would be good for us, and that would be good for the players. And so it's one of the key issues of how we get us our system that will allow us to invest in that game and grow the pie so that we can all benefit."