Los Angeles is back to square one.
Less than 24 hours after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league could expand to 34 teams if the NFL moved to Los Angeles, Goodell said his answer was merely a hypothetical response to a hypothetical question and the league does not plan on expanding.
“The question last night, very simply, was would you just expand by just one to Los Angeles,” Goodell said Friday. “I said no, if we ever expanded, you would expand by two, you wouldn’t expand by one team. We have not discussed expansion with the membership. I don’t see it on the agenda even for this March meeting. It’s not something we’re focused on as a league.”
The possibility of the NFL being open to expansion was a potential game-changer in Los Angeles' hopes of getting an NFL team. For the past ten years the only way the city could get an NFL team was by attracting a current franchise to relocate since the league said it would not expand. Obviously convincing an NFL team to leave their current market and move to another market which lost two NFL teams in 1995 is infinitely harder than simply having the league grant L.A. an expansion team.
When the Houston Texans became the last expansion franchise in the NFL in 2002, the league said it did not anticipate expanding again for the foreseeable future. A 32-team league with two 16-team conferences, each with four divisions of four teams was perfectly aligned. It looks like the NFL still has no plans on messing up that alignment.
“We have not talked about expansion in the league at all,” Goodell said. “It has not been on our agenda and has not been something we have focused on with our membership and I don’t see that in the foreseeable future. We want to keep our teams where they are. We believe that is healthier for the league long term.”
While the NFL is not looking to expand, Goodell did say the league is still hopeful of returning to Los Angeles but reiterated everything has to be right for that to happen. After striking out with two teams in L.A., the league simply cannot afford to fail again in the country’s second biggest media market.
“We would like to be back in Los Angeles if we can do it correctly,” Goodell said. “There are a lot of issues that have to be balanced there. We have a long-term labor agreement and a long-term TV agreement; I think that foundation can be very helpful to us in coming back to Los Angeles. We now have a runway of 10 years where we know our labor situation, we know our television agreement, that should give us the foundation to make smart decisions and try to find a good solution in Los Angeles.”