- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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Welcome to the first installment of the NFL@LA Mailbag where I’ll be answering your NFL in Los Angeles questions every Thursday. You can send me a question in the comments section below, on Twitter or you can find me on Facebook. We’re pretty flexible around here. And remember if you didn’t get your question answered or want to discuss anything further we will have our first installment of the NFL@LA Chat on Friday at 1 p.m.
OK, now let’s get to this week’s questions.
What are the chances of getting the Rams back in LA?
I’ve been saying for the past year that the St. Louis Rams make the most sense to be the second team to move to Los Angeles. The Rams can get out of their lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission after the 2014 season if the Edward Jones Dome doesn't rank in the top quarter of NFL stadiums, which it won’t since it’s already one of the league’s older facilities. St. Louis is still paying off the original construction debt on the dome so it’s highly unlikely the city will build the Rams a new stadium or be able to repair the dome to make it a top-tier NFL stadium. So, I think if Farmers Field is under construction by 2013 and, for example, the Sand Diego Chargers were to move to Los Angeles, it would make sense for the Rams to be the second tenant to move into the stadium. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is a longtime friend and business partner of fellow Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, and AEG's Tim Leiweke has admitted to having conversations with the Rams.
Having the Chargers and the Rams relocate to Los Angeles could be the most ideal scenario for the league, as well, as it would bring one AFC West team and one NFC West team to Los Angeles, so that the geography of the current divisions still work and each of the conference's television broadcasters (currently CBS and FOX) would get a team in the country's second-biggest media market.
From my understanding, I believe that Farmer's Insurance is going to pay AEG somewhere around 700 million dollars for the next 20 years for the naming rights to, "Farmer's Field" but if AEG can convince another NFL team to move into the stadium, then, Farmer's Insurance will pay 1 billion dollars for the naming rights. So, my question is: If Ed Roski and Majestic Realty Co. are willing to pay for and build a state of the art facility, with no tax payer money why would another NFL team decide to move to "Farmer's Field" and share the stadium, when they can have their very own?
The Farmers Field naming rights deal is worth close to $700 million over 30 years and could increase to about $1 billion if two NFL teams call the stadium home. This doesn’t guarantee that two NFL teams will call the stadium home but if there are 20 NFL games (regular season and preseason) with two teams per year as opposed to 10 with one team, the cost of the naming rights deal would increase.
Ed Roski and his Majestic Realty Co. are not proposing to pay for and build a stadium on their own for a team. They want to buy at least 30 percent of a team and finance a stadium with the team. If they buy 30 percent of the team, for example, the team moving to LA would own and finance the other 70 percent of the stadium. The stadium breakdown would be the same as the team breakdown by percentage. While that would appear to be deal breaker for any team looking for the public or a private group to finance their stadium, Majestic claims their stadium will pay for itself through a naming rights deal, sponsorship deals and selling seat licenses. So a team would essentially own their stadium without really paying for it. Majestic’s stadium proposal would also be built to house two NFL teams, which is something the NFL wants both stadiums to do because whichever one gets built (and only one will get built) eventually might house two NFL teams.
Can we get an expansion team and not some ready-made washed up team to come to the city of champions?
-- Ashton Yates
The NFL isn’t looking to expand anytime soon. The league is perfectly aligned as it is with 32 teams divided into two 16-team conferences, each with four 4-team divisions. The league doesn’t want to ruin that by giving one conference and one division an extra team and making it uneven. Current NFL owners also don't want to further split up their revenue-sharing pie by cutting an extra slice or two for expansion teams. So there won’t be an expansion team coming to Los Angeles but I would hardly call a team like the Chargers washed up if they moved to L.A.
What are the odds USC leaves the Coliseum and moves into Farmers Field?
-- Milad Moridi
If USC wasn’t about to take over the master lease of the Coliseum in December which will give the school the exclusive right to use, manage and operate the stadium, I’d say there would be about a 50-50 chance but now it’s closer to a zero percent chance. The Coliseum has not only been USC’s home football stadium for 90 years but it’s essentially an on-campus stadium and allows students and fans to park and tailgate on-campus and walk across the street to games. Why give that up to move to a 68,000-seat stadium in downtown the school doesn’t own or operate with less room to tailgate or park? It doesn’t make any sense. Remember, there is a big difference in what makes a great college stadium and what makes a great NFL stadium. The greatest college stadiums are on or near campus, have history and are affordable for fans and students, they don’t need luxury boxes, club seats and retractable roofs like the NFL.
Are there 2 teams and 2 stadiums coming to LA?
There could be two teams coming to Los Angeles but there will be only one stadium built.
If Vikings move to L.A. would there be divisional realignment in the NFC?
I would imagine if the Vikings moved to Los Angeles, the NFL would consider realignment, perhaps moving St. Louis to the NFC North and Los Angeles to the NFC West. The league might do that if the Vikings changed their name, but if they remained the Vikings my guess would be that the league would still want to preserve the Vikings' rivalry with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions despite being in a different city.
What is the NFL absent tailgating tradition & parking?
It’s still the NFL at the end of the day, whether or not there is room to park your grill and Winnebago. There will be room to tailgate and park at Farmers Field. Obviously not as much room as you’d find on a vacant 600-acre lot in the City of the Industry but I think there will be enough room to appease the hardcore fans that simply can’t live without it and are willing to pay for season tickets and parking permits.
As a supporter of NFL-to-LA proposal and a NFL fan, can you tell me what percent ownership AEG said it has to buy from a team?
AEG wants to own at least a third of the team that moves into Farmers Field, so we’re looking at about 33 percent. The San Diego Chargers are currently looking to sell Alex Spanos’ 36 percent stake in the team for estate planning purposes. That is believed to be the highest percentage of a team currently for sale.
Welcome to the first installment of the NFL@LA Mailbag where I’ll be answering your NFL in Los Angeles questions every Thursday. You can send me a question in the comments section below, on Twitter or you can find me on Facebook.