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?
The relocation fee for whatever team moves to Los Angeles will be high. Most projections are it will be around $500 million. I can’t imagine the NFL would give any team that moves into Los Angeles a “discount” on the relocation fee. They will make it as high as they can without making it so high that it would prevent a move that would ultimately benefit the league and there’s no doubt taking a team from, for example, San Diego, St. Louis or Oakland, and moving it to Los Angeles would benefit the league financially. AEG has a good idea of what the relocation fee would be and I don’t believe it would prevent a team from moving to Los Angeles.
Would it be better if two rival groups built their own proposed football stadiums with the Chargers playing at the future Grand Crossing stadium and the Rams playing at the future Farmers Field so that each site can attract fans from different regions? Also, the Chargers should retain San Diego as their main hometown, but be known as the L.A. Chargers of San Diego, similar to what the L.A. Angels have for Anaheim.
There will not be two new stadiums built in Los Angeles. There will either be the Grand Crossing project in the City of Industry or the Farmers Field project in downtown Los Angeles. Whichever one lures a team and breaks ground on the stadium first wins this head-to-head battle and the other project will die and join the dozens of other failed stadium proposals that came before it since the Raiders and Rams left in 1995. It comes down to financing and it would be impossible to finance two new 70,000-seat football stadiums 20 miles apart. If Farmers Field, for example, broke ground with a stadium naming rights deal, founding partner deals and sold their suite and club seats to local businesses, it would be hard for Grand Crossing to expect to do the exact same thing 30 minutes down the road. That’s why the NFL wants both projects to plan for two NFL teams like the Giants and Jets have in New York because the league also understand only one stadium will be built.
As far as the Chargers name, no, that’s not happening. If the Chargers move to Los Angeles, they will likely be known as the Los Angeles Chargers, which was their first name back in 1960 when they played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Angels’ ridiculous name is unique and was done for legal reasons. I don’t think we’ll ever see a name that absurd again when it comes to identifying a team’s city.
Is there a chance that no NFL team wants to come? What would happen? That's a strong possibility. Would the NFL expand if no one comes?
Sure. After 16 years without an NFL team and numerous failed proposals, that’s more than just a chance, it would probably be the odds on favorite result in some circles. If that were to happen, nothing would really change. Los Angeles would go on not having a team and the NFL would continue to be the most profitable sports league in North America without having a team in the second biggest media market. In that case, I don’t see when or how Los Angeles would get an NFL team. The league isn’t looking to expand anytime soon and if it did, say, in ten years or so. I can’t imagine AEG sticking around to privately finance a stadium again and who knows if Ed Roski will still be in the mix after unsuccessfully trying to get an NFL team since 1995.
I’d like to know if they'll sell Farmers hot dogs at Grand Crossing or will they hold a grudge?
Well, since Farmers Insurance, which bought the naming rights for Farmers Field, has nothing to do with Farmer John hot dogs, which makes Dodger Dogs, I don’t think there should be any problems.
For the team/teams moving into Farmers Field, what is AEG looking for in a possible relocation candidate?
AEG wants to own about a third of whatever team moves into Farmers Field first so they are looking for a team that is at least willing to sell about 30 percent of the team. Quite simply, if they can find a team that is willing to sell 30 percent of the team and sign a 30-year lease to play at Farmers Field then the NFL will be back in Los Angeles.
My new dream scenario: Vikings don't secure Minnesota stadium, draft Andrew Luck, and move to L.A. Pipe dream or real possibility?
I would have said it was a pipe dream last month but it’s beginning to look more and more like the Vikings will not get the public funding they want for their new stadium in Arden Hills. Not only are they facing a possible referendum in Ramsey County on the sales tax increase to pay for the stadium but now the state is saying they don’t have the budget to chip in for the stadium as well. The Vikings want the public to pay for 60 percent of their $1.1 billion stadium and the odds of that happening are looking as bleak as their playoff hopes right now.
What are the chances of UCLA playing in Farmers?
Zero. Last year the Pasadena City Council approved a $152 million financing plan for renovating the Rose Bowl, which including a lease extension for UCLA through 2042 and the Rose Bowl game through 2043.
AEG stadium, AEG team. Will the L.A. Galaxy relocate to Farmer's Field?
No. The Home Depot Center is a 27,000-seat $150 million soccer stadium that was built for the Galaxy just eight years ago. That’s also where the team’s training facilities are. There’s no reason for them to leave a new stadium and training facility that was built for them to play in a 70,000 football stadium when the Galaxy only attracts about 20,000 per game. They would certainly play exhibition matches against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United at Farmers Field but they would never move there.
If USC renovates the Coliseum, why not just move a team there? Less rent and no ownership demand.
The NFL ruled out ever returning to the Coliseum when the Raiders moved out in 1995 and the city’s insistence on a NFL team playing at the city and state-owned relic is one of the biggest reasons the NFL hasn’t returned. It would probably take $800 million to renovate the Coliseum and make it an NFL facility if you look at what Chicago did with Soldier Field. That’s not what USC has in mind for the Coliseum. Their renovation would be more in the $200 million range and include new seats, new locker rooms and the addition of some club seats and luxury suites. Such a renovation would bring it up to par with the renovated Rose Bowl but not with new stadiums in the NFL.
Would the LA NFL team be the number one team in town or would the Lakers still dominate LA?
Championships are what make or break teams in L.A. That’s why the Dodgers were the No. 1 team in the city from 1958-1988 when they won nine NL pennants and five World Series titles. It’s why the Lakers have ruled this town for the better part of 30 years, winning 16 conference titles and 10 NBA titles since 1980. And it’s why the Raiders captured the hearts of this city after moving here from Oakland when they won the 1983 Super Bowl. Los Angeles is a tough sports town but if you win a championship, you are golden. So the NFL team that moves to Los Angeles will take a backseat to Lakers when they arrive but they will quickly supplant them as the toast of the town if they can win a Super Bowl.