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Friday, June 29, 2012
Goodell shows how close L.A. is now

By Arash Markazi

The memo that that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out Friday wasn’t so much a precursor to the NFL returning to Los Angeles next season as it was a reminder of the relocation rules that the league has had in place for years.

The problem is those rules may have been forgotten by some over the years when discussing possible relocation.

Under the NFL’s “Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations” it states that the NFL commissioner must receive written notice from the team wishing to relocate and that “the notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur.” That notice would also be published "in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community."

In Goodell’s memo Friday it again stated that any franchise interested in relocating to Los Angeles for the 2013 season must apply between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of that year, and prove it has exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location.

The agreement that laid the foundation for the policy was a 1996 "Statement of Principles" between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the NFL. The statement came on the heels of the Raiders’ move from Los Angeles to Oakland in July 1995. It was a move that occurred so late it wasn’t officially finalized until days before the Raiders’ opening preseason game against, coincidentally enough, the Rams, who had just moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis.

The policy states that “because League policy favors stable team-community relations, clubs are obligated to work diligently and in good faith to obtain and to maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories, and to operate in a manner that maximizes fan support in their current home community.”

While Goodell’s memo doesn’t quite mean a team is relocating to Los Angeles next season, it does mean that the NFL now realizes that Los Angeles has never been more ready and in better position for the NFL’s return after an 18-year absence.

Farmers Field, a proposed stadium in Downtown Los Angeles, has already submitted an environmental impact report, the final hurdle before construction can begin, and if everything goes according to plan could be in position to push dirt by March 2013. A competing stadium proposed by real estate magnate Ed Roski in the City of Industry has been “shovel ready” since 2009. Both stadiums, however, need a long-term commitment from a team before construction can begin and whenever construction does begin it could take up to four years to complete.

If construction begins in March 2013, the earliest the stadium would be open is September 2017. In the meantime, the NFL team that relocates to Los Angeles would play in either the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.

In Downtown L.A., the plan is to first tear down the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention and build a $275 million replacement hall over Pico Boulevard that would connect to Farmers Field. Construction would then begin on the 68,000-seat football stadium that would be expandable to 78,000 seats for big events like the Super Bowl and Final Four and also be in position to bid on international events like the World Cup and Olympics.

In the City of Industry, the plan is to build a 75,000-seat stadium to be the centerpiece of a 600-acre site on the northern side of the 57 and 60 freeway interchange. The site is currently vacant but following the construction of the stadium will be revamped into an entertainment and retail complex.

The teams most commonly mentioned in a potential move to Los Angeles in recent years have been the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders.