Welcome back to 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 an NFL@LA chat on Friday at 1 p.m.
Why not demolish the Coliseum and build a new stadium?
-- Ivan Gutierrez
Well, first of all, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is registered as a National Historical Landmark and cannot simply be torn down to make a new stadium. That’s a big reason why whenever there has been talk of a new Coliseum over the last 15 years each design essentially included gutting the building and keeping the historical exterior, including the peristyle entrance and torch. This was, in some ways, the idea of the renovation of Soldier Field, where they basically built a brand new stadium inside the old one which towered above the old Greek style columns, which was the primary remnant of the old Soldier Field. The design disgusted the National Register of Historic Places so much that it delisted Soldier Field after construction was completed.
The Coliseum is out of the NFL business after giving USC first right of refusal on any other team that would play there and will essentially hand over the building to USC by the end of the year when the school will get the master lease to the Coliseum. USC will refurbish the building and return the Coliseum to the condition that made it the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls although it would not be suitable to be the permanent home of an NFL team. The needs of an NFL stadium with hundreds of suites and club seats and seating capacities of only about 65,000 to prevent blackouts don’t exactly equate into what makes a great college football stadium.
What are the chances of having a successful fan base for a team that is neither the Chargers nor the Raiders? Are there plans to re-brand a team and if so what are the names and mascots being proposed?
-- Matthew Zavala
Unless the Raiders and Rams return to Los Angeles, I think the team moving to Los Angeles would be best served to completely rebrand themselves. Although the Chargers began in Los Angeles in 1960 playing at the Coliseum, I’m not sure that would still mean anything in Los Angeles if they moved back over 50 years later. And as far as the Vikings, Bills, Jaguars or any other team that has been talked about, a complete rebranding goes without saying. Obviously there haven’t been any specific talks about a name or mascot until they figure out which team is moving here and if the majority owners (should they still be majority owners) want to re-brand the team.
What are the chances the Raiders and the Chargers are coming back to L.A. and if so how soon?
-- Antonio Luna
I’ve been saying the Chargers make the most sense to be the first team to move to Los Angeles in 2012 or 2013. They will not get a new stadium in San Diego after trying for the past decade and are willing to sell 36 percent of the team. The Raiders became a player after the passing of Al Davis if Carol and Mark Davis decide to sell the team. AEG and Majestic would like to own a majority of whatever team moves to Los Angeles but will settle for a meaningful minority share.
What is the projected price of the cheapest ticket for one game (before taxes, fees, etc.)?
--Marco A. Sandoval
The average price of a ticket in the NFL is $115 and I would expect that would be the case in Los Angeles with the price of suites and club seats being among the highest in the league.
If the stadium situation works out in San Diego, would AEG be willing to buy out the Rams' lease three years before it ends?
-- Aron Gonzalez
The stadium situation will not work out in San Diego but assuming it does, and assuming the Vikings get their stadium situation worked out and assuming the Raiders do not want to sell then yes, I think AEG or Majestic would turn their attention to the Rams. The problem is they want a meaningful minority share of the first team that moves there so Stan Kroenke would have to be willing to sell at least a 30 percent stake in the team. He would then have to get out of his lease in St. Louis and be content playing four years at the Coliseum where they would be playing in an outdated facility and not making as much revenue as they would in St. Louis during that time period. I’ve always said the Rams make far more sense to be the second team to move to Los Angeles than the first team.
Now that Al Davis isn’t around anymore, what are the chances the Raiders will come back to L.A.?
It really comes down to whether or not Carol and Mark Davis decide to sell the team or not. Mark Davis may be compelled to sell the team for estate planning purposes as Carol is about the same age as Al and Al mentioned several times before he passed that Mark didn’t want to have anything to do with the football side of the team. We’ll see. There’s certainly a greater chance of the Raiders moving back to L.A. than there ever was before.
What are the details on the Raiders' lease at Oakland County Coliseum? I know they can back out of their lease after the 2013 season, but what is there buy-out option? Same thing for the Rams, what's there buy-out option as well?
-- Fernando Zavala
The Raiders have a lease to play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the 2013 season. If they were to leave before the end of the 2013 season, the Raiders would have to pay Oakland and Alameda County $5 million. So needless to say, if the Raiders wanted to leave in 2012 or 2013, it would not be hard for them to do so.
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 and it is currently one of the older facilities. The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission has until Feb. 1 to give the Rams a preliminary proposal for how it plans to give the Dome "top-tier" status. The Rams can either agree to the offer a month later or reject it and make a counter-offer by May 1, which is the most likely scenario. The commission can then either agree to the counter-offer by June 1 or reject it and go to arbitration. If such a scenario unfolds, the lease could be voided and the Rams could rent the Dome on a year-to-year basis or choose to move elsewhere. So the Rams could easily get out of their lease if they are adamant that anything less than a new stadium will not be sufficient for them. Getting public funding for such an expensive undertaking in St. Louis, which is still paying off the original construction debt of the Dome, is highly unlikely.
The LA Aztecs, LA Shine, or LA Fiesta... which name do you like best for the incoming L.A. NFL team(s)?
-- Nicholas Mireles
None of the above. Sorry. I’m not sure what name I like if they go the rebranding route but I don’t mind the suggestion of the Los Angeles Californians since it has taken the help of city and state officials to make both stadium proposals a possibility.
I don't think L.A. can afford nor support a team. We've had the Rams, Raiders, Xtreme, Express, and Sun, am I missing anyone? Has it been too long to get the No. 2 market back in the mix? Are we too used to going to San Diego or Oakland?
-- Chris Trimm
They can certainly afford a team and they have large enough population to support more than one team. Did you really just bring up old XFL, USFL and WFL teams when talking about Los Angeles supporting a NFL team in 2012? C’mon. The NFL is far more popular now than it was in 1994 when Los Angeles last hosted an NFL game and if you think this city can’t sell out a stadium that would seat about 70,000 fans you probably haven’t been to USC games recently (and that team is unranked and on probation). There are a multitude of reasons why Los Angeles hasn’t had a team in nearly 17 years but none of them have to do with fan support. I also don’t think anyone in Los Angeles is so used to driving two hours to San Diego or six hours to Oakland than they wouldn’t welcome the NFL back to their backyard.
Are we really going to get a team or are we being used as leverage to get other cities to build new stadiums?
-- Nirpal Missan
In past years, I would say we are being used as leverage, but I think Los Angeles finally has its act together and I think the economy is such where teams can’t go to the public sector and ask tax payers to largely fund their stadiums as they did from 1995 to 2009. Those days are over. So now there is more of a chance than ever before that a team like the Chargers, Vikings, Raiders or Rams might move to Los Angeles if they can’t get a new stadium in their current city.
Will there be two stadiums built if there is no decision?
-- Miguel Rodarte
There will be a decision at some point. The teams both groups are targeting will either get a new stadium in their current city or move to Los Angeles. Only one stadium will get built. You can’t finance two stadiums 30 miles apart in Los Angeles for two separate teams. It’s hard enough to finance one stadium. There’s a reason we haven’t had a new football stadium built in Los Angeles or Pasadena since 1923 or in the state of California since 1967.
Will L.A. end up with two existing teams (assuming one NFC and one AFC) or will it be one existing team and one expansion team?
-- Greg Terrell
Los Angeles first needs to get one NFL team. I don’t think two teams will move here at the same time. After the first team moves, I think it will be about one to four years before that second team moves. The league still wants to keep Los Angeles open as leverage for other teams to get their stadium situations resolved and they can do that by keeping that second slot open and I’m sure that second team also wants to see how Los Angeles supports the NFL before rushing there.