There’s a sudden stream of speculation that the Atlanta Falcons could be moving to Los Angeles. I’m not buying it.
Maybe you never say never, but I see this one as an extreme long shot. I see it simply as another step in the negotiating process to get a new stadium built in Atlanta.
Owner Arthur Blank reportedly has let local leaders know that he’s received overtures from business leaders in Los Angeles. But it doesn’t sound like that’s something Blank is extremely interested in.
“Arthur Blank has never played that card and I give him credit for that,’’ Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.
The fact is the Los Angeles thing is going to come up any time a team is looking for public help for a new stadium or renovations. It already has come up in Charlotte, where Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is looking for public money to help with renovations for Bank of America Stadium.
It’s come up elsewhere and will continue to come up in other spots until Los Angeles does get a team.
But I don’t think the Falcons really are in play for Los Angeles. First off, Blank and team president Rich McKay already have several years of talks with local leaders invested in getting a new stadium built. I don’t think the talks have suddenly fallen apart.
I also don’t get any sense that Blank is looking to get out of Atlanta. He has some pretty deep roots there and it’s a huge market that may be just starting to fully embrace the Falcons for the first time in franchise history. A lot of work has gone into that and I don’t think Blank wants all of that to go to waste. I also don’t think the NFL would want to give up a market like Atlanta.
Blank wants a new stadium in Atlanta and I think that still is likely to happen. There also has been some talk that a stadium could be built in the suburbs if a deal can’t be worked out to make it happen downtown.
I see the Los Angeles option only as a last resort if Blank simply can’t get a new stadium built in Atlanta or anywhere near the city. Until a deal is reached, the rumblings about Los Angeles probably will continue.
I think there are some owners out there who might be eager to move their team to Los Angeles or sell it to someone who will take it to California. But I don’t think Blank is one of those owners.