NFL@L.A.: Los Angeles

Could the Minn. Vikings move to L.A.?

April, 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- It looks as if the NFL once again pulled out its favorite trump card Friday while talking to Minnesota lawmakers about passing a financial package to build the Minnesota Vikings a new stadium.

“There is no ultimatum, but we did clearly talk about L.A. We did clearly talk about that [being] an open market," Minnesota Sen. Julie Rosen said. "I do believe there is a feeling in some legislators and even in some folks throughout the state that they would never leave. So it was good to hear from the NFL, and from a very prominent owner, that they do have the right to move or be sold.”

With all due respect to Sen. Rosen, the NFL has used the “L.A. is an open market” line for the past 17 years since the Raiders and Rams left the No. 2 media market in the country in 1995 for Oakland and St. Louis, respectively. To their credit, the line has worked remarkably well. Since 1995, 21 new stadiums have been built for 22 teams in the NFL with most of them largely funded by a public sector fearful of losing its team if the local government doesn't chip in to build a new stadium.

Minnesota lawmakers wasted little time jumping at the NFL's threat Friday as a Minnesota Senate committee narrowly approved a public subsidy to help the Vikings build a new football stadium mere hours after after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited the state capital. The stadium bill still faces a long road in the final 10 days of Minnesota's legislative session but there is at least some hope now.

There is still, however, the very real possibility that a majority of Minnesota lawmakers could scoff at the idea of the public sector largely funding a new Vikings stadium during a recession. If that happens, could that decision ultimately lead to the NFL returning to Los Angeles? The answers, or at least some educated guesses, can be found below.

Could the Minnesota Vikings really move to Los Angeles?

If you ask those who have been working toward getting the Vikings a new stadium in Minnesota for the past decade, the answer to that question will likely be answered by Minnesota’s political leaders over the next 10 days. After plans for a $975 million proposed stadium failed in committee a few days ago, the Vikings and the NFL urged Minnesota to raise the stadium issue again before the Minnesota state legislature finishes its current session at the end of the month, which seems likely at this point after Friday's news.

Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II flew to St. Paul, Minn. on Friday to meet with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders to let them know the importance of getting the stadium proposal to a full floor vote and not having the issue die in committee as it did earlier this session. In their eyes, a failure to vote will be viewed as a no vote and the Vikings and the league would be forced to explore other options at that time. Either way, this is an issue that simply cannot be pushed aside until 2013. If it drags into next year, the Vikings could very well look to move to Los Angeles rather than play another year at the Metrodome and go through another round of political hurdles and hallow promises.

Why do the Vikings want to leave Minnesota?

It’s not so much Minnesota as it is the Metrodome. The Vikings' lease with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to play in the Metrodome expired after the 2011 season, leaving the Vikings as the lone team in the NFL without a current home. They will play the upcoming season in the Metrodome, but the Vikings don’t want to commit to anything past this season without a new stadium plan in place.

Long before the roof of the Metrodome collapsed in 2010, forcing the Vikings to play two home games at Detroit’s Ford Field and then the University of Minnesota, the team’s ownership has considered the venue inadequate. It is one of the 10 oldest stadiums in the NFL, and under the Vikings’ lease with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which was signed in 1979, the commission owns the stadium and the Vikings simply rent it.

“It’s challenging from both a fan experience and from a revenue and competiveness experience,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development. “Right now we’re significantly subsidized by other NFL teams because of the Metrodome and the lack of revenue. The Metrodome is no longer an NFL facility and it can no longer sustain a team and is not a viable long-term solution.”

Would Zygi Wilf be the one to move the Vikings or would someone else do it?

New Jersey real estate magnate Zygi Wilf, 63, and a group of investors bought the Vikings from Red McCombs in 2005 for $600 million. At the time McCombs had unsuccessfully tried to get a new stadium for the Vikings for years and now Wilf is in the same boat. Wilf isn't currently looking to sell the team, but has met with AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke, who is the former CEO of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We’ve followed the situation in Los Angeles through the NFL and we know Tim Leiweke, who is a former sports executive in Minneapolis,” Bagley told last year. “We’ve been in contact with Tim and he provides us with updates but our focus is on getting a new stadium in Minnesota. That’s our plan A and we don’t have a plan B.”

If the Vikings are unable to get a new stadium plan in place by 2012, Wilf could very well look to sell the team to someone who could move the Vikings to Los Angeles. With no new stadium plan in place, it would be hard for Wilf to sell to someone wanting to keep the team in Minnesota and at the Metrodome. And while the league normally doesn’t allow teams to be sold to owners looking to relocate, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said if the new owners of the Vikings filed for relocation after purchasing the team, the league would certainly be open to that possibility in light of the stadium situation in Minnesota and the league’s failed efforts to get a new stadium in the area.

Who could potentially buy the Vikings and move them to Los Angeles?

There are currently two stadium and ownership options in Los Angeles and both groups have already reached out to the Vikings. Real estate magnate Ed Roski, 74, wants to buy a team and 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 in Industry, Calif. The site is currently vacant but following the construction of the stadium would be revamped into an entertainment and retail complex. His old friend and billionaire, Philip Anschutz, 72, is the principal financial backer of the other proposal. Anschutz wants to buy a team and build a 75,000-seat stadium in downtown Los Angeles that would be connected and serve as an extension to a remodeled Los Angeles Convention Center next to Staples Center. Roski’s project is currently “shovel ready” while Anschutz’s project will likely be in position to push dirt in March 2013 once it has an approved environmental impact report, which is expected early next year.

What would the timeline be for relocation if that were the plan?

NFL bylaws state that the NFL commissioner must receive written notice from a team wishing to relocate no later than Feb. 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur. So the Vikings have until Feb. 15, 2013 to decide if they want to relocate. Chances are something will happen well before then, especially if Wilf wants to sell the team and give the new owners enough time to file for relocation. Once a team files for relocation, NFL owners would vote on it at their March meetings and if it were approved, construction would then begin on the new stadium and the Vikings would likely play in either the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl temporarily until their new stadium was ready, which would most likely be in 2017.

If the Vikings moved would Minnesota get to keep the Vikings’ name, colors and history?

That’s a decision that would be up to the owners and the league but it’s very likely that if the Vikings moved to Los Angeles they would be rebranded and renamed and Minnesota would be allowed to keep their name, colors and history, much like in Cleveland with the Browns. Los Angeles wants a new team of their own while the NFL wants to keep the Vikings in Minnesota and wants to have a presence in the Twin Cities. If for whatever reason that isn’t possible now and the Vikings are forced to relocate, the city would remain in the mix to get a franchise as soon as it had a new stadium plan in place. As Los Angeles football fans can tell you, however, that wait can last a generation if you lose a team.

NFL@LA Four Corners

December, 23, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week:
As usual the Chargers are finishing off the season strong and as usual it might not matter. San Diego is on a three-game winning streak, their longest since Oct. 9 after losing six games in a row. San Diego’s 34-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football was perhaps the first glimpse of the team some had picked before the season to make it to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the Chargers it might be a case of too little, too late.

This week:
San Diego will face the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve and try to keep their playoff hopes alive while preventing the Lions from clinching their first playoff berth since 1999, which they can do with a win. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has finally turned his season around and helped the Chargers outscore their last three opponents 109-38 with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions. Meanwhile running back Ryan Mathews has gained 453 of his 1,033 yards over the last four games and scored three touchdowns.

L.A. Story:
Qualcomm Stadium is far from being a modern NFL stadium, in fact it's one of the three oldest in the league, and it’s a home the Chargers have been trying to ditch for the past decade but the Q did get a slight makeover recently. Qualcomm Inc. has renamed the stadium for 10 days to "Snapdragon Stadium" until Dec. 28 to bring more attention to the company's chips for its mobile devices. Considering how the Chargers played at Snapdragon last week, the team may want to keep the name next season. If they don’t get an agreement on a new stadium by then though, the Chargers may be heading to Los Angeles in 2013.

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NFL@LA Four Corners

December, 16, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week:
The Chargers have their first winning streak (two games) since winning three straight from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9 following their 37-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continued his resurgence, completing 24 of 32 passes for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Chargers running back Ryan Mathews also had a big day on the ground, rushing for 114 yards on 20 carries.

This week:
San Diego hosts its last home game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. While the Ravens are in position to finish with the best record in the AFC, the Chargers simply want to finish the season strong and be 9-7 at year’s end, which would give them an outside shot at winning the AFC West if Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos ever lost a game.

L.A. Story: As we’ve been saying for the past year this will not be the last season for the Chargers in San Diego. Next year? Well that's another story. It’s a feeling that was essentially echoed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week who said that Los Angeles “is a viable market in the sense that we know there are millions of fans in that market who want to see football return there but we want it to return in a successful way, and that requires a stadium. I don't think we'll be in a position to make that decision by 2012, but we'll continue to work with the different alternatives in Los Angeles and hope that we get a solution that will work.”

Los Angeles will not be in a position to break ground on a stadium until the spring of 2012, which is too late for a team to move. A relocation notice by a team would have to be made in writing to the commissioner by Feb. 15 so the most likely date for the NFL’s return to Los Angeles continues to be February 2013. This fact, by the way, is not lost on all the parties involved despite what they might say otherwise publicity.

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NFL@LA Four Corner

December, 10, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week:
The Chargers finally snapped their six-game losing streak with a 38-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Finally playing against a team dealing with more drama than San Diego (new coach, new owner), Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers finally broke out of the funk he’s been in since the opening weekend by completing 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. It took 11 weeks but it was the first glimpse at the Rivers that Chargers fans thought they would see this season.

This week:
San Diego may have snapped its longest losing streak in a decade but they still haven’t won a game at home since Oct. 2. The Chargers will try to break that streak on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, another team in the midst of a slide. The Bills, which started the season 3-0, are now 5-7 after losing their last five games. If Rivers plays like he did Monday night, it will likely be six straight for Buffalo.

L.A. Story: Despite the Chargers’ win Monday night, the apathy surrounding the Chargers in San Diego following the team’s six-game losing streak remains. Sunday’s game between the Chargers and Bills will be blacked out in Southern California because 5,000 tickets remained unsold 72 hours before kickoff. To be fair, even if the Chargers were in L.A. a battle between two 5-7 teams probably would not sell out either.

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NFL@LA Four Corners

December, 2, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week:
The Chargers lost their sixth straight game, their longest losing streak in a decade, as Tim Tebow once again worked his magic in leading the Denver Broncos to a 16-13 overtime win. The Chargers jumped out to 10-0 lead in the second quarter but as has been the case this season, they were unable to close it in the second half. Philip Rivers was a non-factor in the second half and in overtime. The struggling quarterback has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during San Diego’s six-game losing streak.

This week:
San Diego might finally get a chance to break their slide against another team rumored to be coming to Los Angeles in the Jacksonville Jaguars when they square off on Monday Night Football. It will be the first game for the Jaguars since Wayne Weaver announced he was selling the team to Shahid Khan. It will also be the Jaguars first game under new coach Mel Tucker, who replaced Jack Del Rio. The Chargers may be looking for a new coach soon as well if Norv Turner isn’t able to turn this season around after missing the playoffs last year.

L.A. Story: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders listed his 2012 priorities before he left office in November and they were to eliminate the city’s budget deficit, expand the convention center, improve Balboa Park, and get the Chargers a new stadium. The problem is the only way for the Chargers to get a new stadium according to team officials is if it’s tied to a convention center expansion which is something the Sanders is not on board with. In fact, he believes both are on two separate tracks. As long as that remains the case it seems like the convention center expansion will go through while the Chargers stadium will remain stuck in neutral.

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NFL@LA Four Corners

November, 25, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week:
The Chargers lost their fifth straight game of the season to the Chicago Bears. After a 4-1 start to the year, the Chargers now find themselves tied for last place in the AFC West. San Diego fell behind the Bears 31-17 in the third quarter before losing 31-20 and continued their trend of listless second halves in the process. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers also continued his wildly forgettable season by throwing two more interceptions. He now has an NFL-high 17 interceptions to go with six fumbles, by far the most turnovers in the league for a single player.

This week:
San Diego’s last win of the season came Oct. 9 in Denver when Tim Tebow came off the bench and replaced Kyle Orton and nearly led the Broncos to a comeback win. The Chargers will now attempt to break their losing streak by beating Tebow and the Broncos again. Since that game San Diego has lost five straight while Tebow has led Denver to a 4-1 record.

L.A. Story: Chargers president Dean Spanos recently said the team’s slump won’t affect their efforts to build a new stadium in San Diego. “A new stadium is a long-term, big-picture benefit for San Diego,” he said. “I think people understand that.” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has also continued to say that a new stadium tied to a convention center expansion is the “last and best chance” to keep the Chargers in San Diego. If the Chargers continue to lose and miss the playoffs for the second straight year, their “last and best chance” may already be over before the debate on a new stadium can even begin.

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NFL@LA Four Corners

November, 11, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week: The preseason Super Bowl match-up some had predicted in the preseason between the Chargers and the Green Bay Packers lived up to expectations with Green Bay winning a thrilling 45-38 shootout in the rain. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, Philip Rivers has yet to live up to expectations this season. He threw three interceptions in the game, including one on the game’s final drive to tie and send it into overtime. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns and the third almost was returned for a touchdown as well before Packers safety Charlie Peprah was pushed out at the six-yard line to end the game.

This week: The Chargers' fall for grace continued Thursday night as San Diego lost its fourth game in a row, this time to Oakland Raiders at home, 24-17. The nationally televised game was for first place in the AFC West and once again Rivers failed to step up to the occasion, throwing an interception and fumbling the ball on San Diego’s last two drives attempting to tie the game.

L.A. Story: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on Thursday before the game to discuss where the city is with the Chargers’ plans for a new downtown stadium. The league would like the Chargers to remain in San Diego but Goodell admitted Qualcomm Stadium, in addition to the stadiums in San Francisco and Oakland, need to be drastically renovated or completely replaced for the teams to be financially competitive. “The three stadiums in California certainly are not up to the standards we’re seeing in the rest of the NFL or, frankly, other sports,” he said. “[Stadiums] are expensive projects. They take a public and private partnership and the players have recognized that and are contributing to that.”Asked about the prospect of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, Goodell took the same stance the league always takes when L.A. comes up. “Until there's an appropriate solution in Los Angeles,” he said. “There won’t be a team there.”

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NFL@LA Four Corners

November, 4, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.

Last week: Now this is the San Diego team Chargers fans have grown to know and loathe at the beginning of the season over the past ten years. After a 4-1 start, the Chargers have lost their last two games late thanks to turnovers by quarterback Philip Rivers. Against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, Rivers fumbled a snap at the Kansas City 15-yard line while trying to run down the clock for a game-winning field goal. The Chargers ended up losing 23-20 in overtime and now the Chargers find themselves in a three-way tie with the Chiefs and Raiders for first place in the AFC West.

This week: The Chargers will try to break out of their funk at home against the Green Bay Packers. It won’t be easy for the Chargers to avoid slipping to 4-4 considering the Super Bowl champions have won 16 straight going back to last season and are off to their best start (7-0) since 1962. If the Chargers are to pull the upset Rivers will have to start playing like his old self. He has thrown 11 interceptions this season, the highest in the league, and his 80.7 passer rating ranks 19th.

L.A. Story: It’s early in the season but if the Chargers fall to 4-4 on Sunday and Rivers doesn’t regain his old form, the team’s prospects of gaining public support for a new stadium will get bleaker and bleaker. It’s already a long shot to think the public is going to largely fund a new downtown stadium but if the Chargers could at least get to the Super Bowl maybe they could get the same support the Padres did for Petco Park when they made it to World Series in 1998. If the Chargers, however, flame out and miss the playoffs altogether like they did last year, their slim shot at a new stadium may be completely erased as they look to move north after the 2012 season.


Last week: Minnesota won its second game of the season, beating the Carolina Panthers, 24-21 last Sunday. Christian Poder completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown to get his first professional win. Yes, the win came against the 2-6 Panthers and fellow rookie quarterback Cam Newton but the way this season has gone for the Vikings, they’ll take the wins anyway they can get them.

This week: The Vikings have a bye this week and will face the Green Bay Packers next Monday night at Lambeau Field.

L.A. Story: Things got ugly this week in Minneapolis where legislators said they would not vote on financing for the Vikings' new stadium this year, the Vikings saying such a delay would leave them as the only NFL team without a lease after this season and force them to look elsewhere and the Metrodome saying the Vikings are obligated to play in the stadium next year after the team was forced to play two games elsewhere last year after the roof of the dome collapsed. There is a clause in their lease that triggers an extension if there is a shortened season. The Vikings, of course, are arguing if the roof of the Metrodome hadn’t collapsed there would have been no need to play elsewhere. Long story short, the Vikings aren’t getting a stadium resolution until 2012 at the earliest and if they don’t get one by then, they will likely move west like the Minneapolis Lakers did over 50 years ago.


Last week:
Oakland was off last week but the Raiders now find themselves tied with the Chargers and Chiefs for first place in the AFC West.

This week: The Denver Broncos and the Tim Tebow show come to Oakland on Sunday as the Raiders try to get their first win under Carson Palmer. The former USC quarterback not only got an extra week to learn the playbook and work with his teammates but he will have a familiar target on the field this week after the team signed receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh. The two played together in Cincinnati and worked out together in the off-season and even during the season as Palmer held out and Houshmanzadeh waited to be signed. Darren McFadden, however, was still on crutches this week and won’t play Sunday.

L.A. Story: Raiders fan in Los Angeles will need NFL Sunday Ticket or be forced to go to a sports bar on Sunday to watch the Raiders-Broncos game as CBS 2 in Los Angeles will show the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game at 10 a.m. while FOX 11 will be airing a double-header this week with San Francisco 49ers-Washington Redskins at 10 a.m. and the New York Giants-New England Patriots at 1 p.m. Yes, that also means Chargers fans wanting to watch the Chargers-Packers must also have NFL Sunday Ticket or go somewhere that does to watch the game.

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (1-6)

Last week: In what was perhaps the upset of the NFL season so far, the winless Rams beat the New Orleans Saints, 31-21, after taking a 24-0 lead in the third quarter. The previous week the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 62-7. In an odd stat, three of the last four NFL teams which have scored 62 points have lost the next week. Rams running back Stephen Jackson broke out in the win for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

This week: The Rams will play the 1-6 Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. St. Louis started the season 0-6 but it may have had more to do with how good their opponents were. The combined record of the Rams' first seven opponents was 31-19, and the next four are 7-21. The Rams might also get back Sam Bradford, who missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Bradford, who has been sacked a NFL-high 21 times, practiced this week but the Rams will be careful before putting him behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.

L.A. Story: Rams owner Stan Kroenke has been careful not to indicate exactly how he feels about the long-term viability of the Rams in St. Louis and the Edward Jones Dome but he made some interesting comments to reporters while he was in London talking about Arsenal, the English Premier League team he owns.

“London is a great place and a great market," he said. "Comparably in the US, you would talk about Los Angeles and New York. There was a study done in the States and if you ask any 20- to 30-year-old person where they would most like to live if they didn't live where they presently lived, they will tell you L.A. and New York. It's interesting because players are a lot of times 20-30 years old, so where are they most likely to gravitate? If you ask players in the US, they'll say being in L.A. or New York is a pretty good place to be for 20-30 year olds. So those markets to me have an inherent advantage as far as recruiting. Maybe that's just me, but I think London is a great place to be. I think, long-term, if you want to attract players, it is a great place to me.”

So, would moving the Rams back to L.A., be in the best interest of the team long-term, if Kroenke wants to attract players?

Has the NFL forgotten about L.A.?

October, 31, 2011
On Sunday the NFL played its 29th game outside of the United States since the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles in 1995, when the Buffalo Bills defeated the Washington Redskins, 23-0, in Toronto. A week earlier the Chicago Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-18, in London.

There have been a total of 30 games (10 regular season and 20 exhibition) scheduled in 10 cities in seven countries since Los Angeles and Orange County held their last NFL games on Dec. 24, 1994. Since then the NFL has not held a single regular season or exhibition game in the Los Angeles area.

Despite overtures by AEG to hold the NFL draft at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. Live or by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to host the Super Bowl or the Pro Bowl there, neither venue has been seriously considered.

The Coliseum was the home of the first Super Bowl in 1967 as well as Super Bowl VII. The Coliseum also was the home of the first NFL Pro Bowl and held the game from 1950-1971 and was the last stateside venue to host it in 1979 (before the game was moved to Hawaii for all but one season).

Despite Los Angeles’ rich NFL history, the city has been virtually ignored by the NFL since the Raiders moved to Oakland and the Rams moved to St. Louis.

League officials, however, claim they have not forgotten about Los Angeles. They would just rather place a franchise back in the city than stage occasional games and events there.

"As we’ve taken our games to other places it’s really been to increase fan awareness and increase fan engagement," said NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman earlier this year. “We have high fan engagement in the Los Angeles market so we haven’t felt that we had to take games there to stimulate that. It is possible that we might have neutral site U.S. games but that is not our objective for Los Angeles. Our objective is to return a full franchise there.”

As far as becoming the future site of the Super Bowl and possibly the Pro Bowl, Grubman said Los Angeles, as well as other NFL cities in California, would need to get a new stadium for that to happen.

“When we stage a Super Bowl we need a certain number of seats and we need to have a fan experience for the premium event that it is,” Grubman said. “I can’t really in my mind solve all the logistics and problems that would be presented in the stadiums that currently exist [in California] in the condition they exist. I don’t believe we could stage a Super Bowl given the condition of the stadiums that currently exist in California.”

NFL@LA Four Corners

October, 14, 2011
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


Last week: San Diego beat the Denver Broncos 29-24 at Mile High. The Chargers withstood a late rally from Tim Tebow to start the season 4-1 for the first time since 2006. Ryan Mathews had 125 yards on 24 carries, Malcolm Floyd had 100 yards and 1 touchdown on just three catches and Philip Rivers threw for 250 yards and touchdown. San Diego was up 26-10 with seven minutes left in the game before Tebow came in and scored two touchdowns and forced San Diego to sweat out a late two-point conversion attempt and onside kick.

This week: The Chargers have a bye this week, which means they can enjoy their 4-1 record a little longer before getting ready to fly to New York to play the Jets next week.

L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani conducted a Q&A with fans on the team’s website this week and once again took a shot at AEG, which again confirms what we’ve said all along, that the two sides are negotiating. AEG wants a share of the team at half price and the Chargers want to sell a share of the team at more than full price. Something tells me they’ll meet somewhere closer to market value at some point. Here is what Fabiani had to say: “AEG has been aggressively promoting its project, which it has every right to do. And AEG’s promotional efforts get a lot of attention. That’s just the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do about that. For our part, the Chargers must remain focused on our downtown San Diego options while explaining to our fans that there are many, many impediments in the way of the AEG project. You mentioned perhaps the biggest one of all: AEG wants to buy a significant chunk of a team at a discounted price. That is just not going to happen, at least as far as the Chargers are concerned, and from what I read, not as far as the NFL is concerned either.”


Last week: Oakland beat the Houston Texans 25-20 at Reliant Stadium in one of the most emotional wins in Raiders history. The Raiders, who dedicated the game and the rest of the season to owner Al Davis who died 24 hours earlier, found a way to upset Houston in a game that came down to the final play when Raiders safety Michael Huff intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s pass in the end zone with no time remaining to clinch the win for Oakland. After the game Raiders coach Hue Jackson got down on his knees and cried as did Davis son, Mark, watching from the owner’s box. There were ten men on the field for the Raiders on the last play but Raiders CEO Amy Trask said, “No, we had eleven.”

This week: The Raiders will play their first game back in Oakland since the death of Davis as they face the Cleveland Browns at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. A tribute to Davis and a moment of silence will precede the game and the Raiders are encouraging fans to get to the stadium early for the moment of silence and stay in their seats for what Trask said there would be a surprise ceremony at halftime.

L.A. Story: The chances of the Raiders returning to Los Angeles were remote with Davis as the owner. He did not want to give up his controlling interest in the Raiders and since that controlling interest consists of only a 46 percent ownership stake in the team he was also in no position to sell a 30 percent stake which is what both Los Angeles stadium groups are looking for. He also didn’t want the Raiders to share the L.A. market and stadium with another team. Remember, he walked away from a new stadium at Hollywood Park in 1995 when the league wanted him to agree to share the stadium with a second team in the future. Now the question is will Carol and Mark Davis be willing to sell the team to one of the two Los Angeles groups looking to build a new stadium in L.A. since the Raiders have been unable to get a new stadium built since moving back to Oakland and their only hope now for a new stadium is sharing one with the 49ers in Santa Clara. That is, of course, if they can ever get the funding for it.


Last week: Minnesota won its first game of the season 34-10 by beating the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Vikings, who had squandered a 20-0 third quarter lead and a 17-0 third quarter lead this season and been outscored 67-6 after halftime finally got a lead big enough that they could keep. The Vikings went up 28-0 in the first quarter and never looked back despite only kicking two field goals the rest of the game.

This week: The Vikings try to make it two in a row this week as they travel to Chicago to play the Bears. Minnesota will try to snap a three-game skid against the Bears and if the Vikings are to be successful they will need a better performance from Donovan McNabb whose completion percentage (56.8) and yards per attempt (6.43) rank 27th in the league.

L.A. Story: The Vikings moved down the list this week after a Ramsey County panel on Tuesday decided not to call a countywide referendum next year on a proposed half-cent sales tax hike to help build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. The decision eliminated an obstacle that team officials said would have delayed the project and added to its cost. The Vikings, however, are still not out of the water yet. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said that the Vikings, who have offered $407 million towards the project, would probably need to raise that figure to $500 million to make the stadium a reality. Even then, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune points out, “there is still no state funding plan, no clear political roadmap to getting the needed 102 votes at the State Capitol and continued doubts about the sprawling suburban site the Vikings have chosen for a 65,000-seat stadium.”

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-4)

Last week: St. Louis had a bye last week, which was probably good news for the winless Rams.

This week: The Rams will play the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field in a game that could get ugly real fast. While Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks to lead the undefeated Packers to an eighth straight win at Lambeau Field, the winless Rams, who own the league's worst road record over the past four seasons, are just looking to stop the bleeding. Don’t expect that to happen this week.

L.A. Story: Last week we had former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood saying he would like to see the Rams come back home to Los Angeles where they rightfully belong while he was on a book tour and this week TMZ caught up with Eric Dickerson at L.A. Live who said, “The ideal situation would be for the Rams to come back to L.A. That’s what I would like to see. I would like to see them come back here and become the Los Angeles Rams.”

NFL@LA mailbag

October, 14, 2011
Welcome back to the NFL@LA mailbag where I’ll be answering all your NFL in Los Angeles questions. 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.

You have pointed out that the Jaguars stadium lease make them unlikely candidates to move to LA. Can you provide some more details on what makes that arrangement so prohibitive for a move out of Northeast Florida? Are there any potential loopholes there?
-- Sean Lawton

Well, first of all, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said he has no plans to sell the team or move the team. All the other teams that are rumored to move have owners that would either sell the team or move the team if they don’t get a new stadium. Jacksonville is always brought up presumably because it’s, well, Jacksonville. The Jaguars' lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season, and if the Jaguars wanted to leave before then, they would be required to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or convince a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium. The odds of any NFL team losing money in any year, let alone three consecutive years, or a judge allowing the local NFL team to leave town are remote. Of course, leases can usually be broken for a negotiated price, but it seems the penalty would be too steep considering the other candidates available.

If Farmers Field is built in Downtown Los Angeles, How will the tailgating situation turn out with the lack of parking in Downtown? I read that the number of the parking lots in use now around LA Live will be further reduced by a number of construction projects (hotels, condos, etc.) that will take place in the future.
-- jamills21

Great question and it’s honestly the biggest problem AEG and Farmers Field must tackle along with finding ample parking, especially if they play weeknight games. AEG officials have said there will be room for tailgating and that there will be 32,000 parking spaces within a 15-minute walk of Farmers Field. The problem with that parking number is that it is good on weekends but many of those spaces would be occupied on a Monday or Thursday night for a game. And while there may be tailgating areas around Farmers Field it wouldn’t be like the ample room you’d find at the Rose Bowl or the projected stadium in the City of Industry which is being built in the center of 600 wide open acres.

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What was Al Davis' succession plan?

October, 8, 2011
Few, if any, owners in sports had a stranglehold on their team the way Al Davis had on the Oakland Raiders. He controlled every facet of the team until his final days -- from the players the team drafted and signed to the way the field and uniforms looked on game days.

There was no aspect of the organization that wasn’t under the watchful eye of Davis, who did everything his way, regardless of what anyone, even the NFL commissioner, thought.

The Oakland Raiders, however, as we have known them since 1963, are no more after Davis passed Saturday at the age of 83.

After the well-deserved tributes and reverences are made in the coming days, the attention will turn to his succession plan and the future of the Raiders.

Davis had previously said control of the team would go to his wife, Carol, and son, Mark, when he died.

During a press conference on Aug. 1, 2006, Davis also mentioned former Raiders coach John Madden could play a role in helping the franchise’s transition after his passing.

“If something happened to Al, I'm sure (Madden) would be someone that Carol Davis and Mark Davis would call, along with several others who have been Raiders most of their lives and still have a tremendous loyalty to it," Davis said. “That's if I don't outlive them. ... Time runs by you. My life goes on. We're still here and we want to win.”

Davis met Carol in 1950 when he was 21 years old and began his coaching career at Adelphi College on Long Island. He was only there two years before he went into the Army, and as a private, coached the Fort Belvoir football team.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated on Nov. 4, 1963, Davis said about Carol, “A friend introduced us when I was coaching at Adelphi. He thought she could handle me. You know, I wasn’t a bad looking kid and not a poor boy.”

When Carol suffered a severe heart attack in 1979, Davis talked hospital officials into giving him a bed in the intensive care unit and slept there for two weeks to be next to her.

“She’s a good girl,” Davis told Sports Illustrated in 1963. “I swear somebody’s going to steal her sometime. She worries that I don’t spend enough time with our son, Mark. I tell her I didn’t spend an awful lot of time with my daddy, but we were close. I really loved my daddy. It’s not how much time you spend, it’s what you do with the time you’ve got.”

Mark, who is now 56, graduated from Chico State and has been around the team more in recent years.

When the San Jose Mercury News asked Davis what Mark’s role was with the team on Sept. 30, 2008, he said, “He’s business and perhaps he’s doing some work on the stadium -- business and stadium. He doesn’t want to get involved in football. He used to know all the players. He still does. They were his vintage – Cliff Branch and all those guys, Fred Biletnikoff, all those guys. He never understood how I could let someone go. He just doesn’t want to get into that part of it. But he will own it someday. That is… if they let me go to my maker. ”

It is not yet known if Carol or Mark would want to have anything to do with the day-to-day operations of the Raiders. Amy Trask, the Raiders’ CEO will likely take a more prominent role with the team now and help with the transition and life without Davis.

Davis had owned 67 percent of the Raiders but that percentage dropped to 47 percent in 2007 when he sold a 20 percent minority interest to a group of investors, led by East Coast businessmen David Abrams, director of the Abrams Capital investment firm, Paul Leff, founder of the Perry Corporation money management firm, and Dan Goldring, managing director at Perry Corp. The deal gave the group no control of the franchise at the time of the sale or in the future. Davis said he made the deal for estate planning purposes.

That percentage became available to Davis when he settled a lawsuit with the heirs of one of the team’s co-founders, E.W. McGah, which reportedly included the sale of the McGah family’s 31 percent stake in the Raiders.

Davis became the third general partner of the Oakland Raiders when he purchased 10 percent of the team for $18,000 in 1966. Ever since then, Davis has slowly built his shares to become the managing general partner of the team with most of the minority shares divided among the heirs of the eight original general partners.

Last month Forbes magazine valued the Raiders at $761 million, second lowest in the NFL only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders have unsuccessfully tried to get a new stadium in Oakland since moving back from Los Angeles in 1995 but continue to play in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the third oldest stadium in the league. Since returning to the Bay Area, 83 of the Raiders' 130 home games have been blacked out on TV after failing to sell out.

There had been talk recently of the San Francisco 49ers and Raiders possibly partnering on a new stadium in Santa Clara but nothing substantial has come from preliminary discussions. Both teams shared Kezar Stadium in 1960.

When former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartalo and team president Carmen Policy were rumored to be interested in buying the Raiders in 2006, Trask came out told the San Francisco Chronicle that Davis would always control the Raiders.

“Al Davis currently has, and will continue to have, total control of the Raiders,” Trask said. “And that will continue into perpetuity.”

NFL@LA mailbag

October, 6, 2011
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.

OK, now let’s get to this week’s questions.

Which team has the best chance of moving into L.A.?

I’ve been saying for the past year the team that has the best chance of moving to Los Angeles is the San Diego Chargers. Quite simply, I don’t see how the Chargers are going to get public funding for a new stadium. After a decade of trying and being turned down from one location to the other, I believe they will move two hours north to Los Angeles where they will be in the second biggest media market, play in the league’s newest stadium and become one of the most valuable franchises in sports. Since AEG wants to own a third of the team that moves into Farmers Field first, they also make sense because the Chargers are willing to sell Alex Spanos’ 36 percent share of the team for estate planning purposes.

Are the Rams losing games on purpose just to ease the move back to LA?

Interesting thought but, no, that’s not the reason why the St. Louis Rams are 0-4. The same goes for the 0-4 Minnesota Vikings. Those teams are just that bad with no ulterior motives. They will be in competition all season with the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs for the top pick in next year’s NFL draft.

Is it possible that Chargers might be able to pay less to move because they could claim that they already have a market? Is it possible that that the NFL might say you would actually have LA and San Diego and therefore pay full or even more to move?

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Chargers-Dolphins blacked out

September, 29, 2011
Oakland Raiders fans in Los Angeles won’t have to worry about the San Diego Chargers getting in the way of them watching their team play the New England Patriots on Sunday.

The Chargers’ home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday has been blacked out in Southern California after 6,500 tickets remained unsold as of Thursday afternoon.

The NFL requires all games not sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff to be blacked out in the local market, which includes all signals within a 75-mile radius of the stadium.

KCBS 2 in Los Angeles announced it would feature a double-header Sunday with the Pittsburgh Steelers-Houston Texans game at 10 a.m. followed by the Raiders-Patriots game at 1 p.m.

Fans in the blackout area will be able to see a replay of the Chargers-Dolphins game on beginning at midnight Sunday.

The Chargers just barely avoided a blackout last week when it sold 5,000 tickets just before the deadline. Despite the announced sell out there were still thousands of empty seats at the game and tickets were still available at the box office on game day.

We've got mail: NFL@L.A. mailbag

September, 29, 2011
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?
-- simonoff

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.

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Philip Rivers
544 378 4478 32
R. Mathews 285 1255 4.4 6
D. Woodhead 106 429 4.0 2
K. Allen 71 1046 14.7 8
A. Gates 77 872 11.3 4