NFL Prognosticator: Los Angeles Relocation

>> Thursday

Developers have announced the latest plans for a new Los Angeles stadium, and has offered it as a carrot for any team that "wants to relocate." But with the NFL at an all-time high for popularity, pervasiveness and revenues...and with no expansion likely...who would?

We start with 32 NFL teams. I would have to think that any team that built a new stadium since 1995 is out. There's no way any team in the league could get a new stadium with help from state and local government in the future if that happened. The outcry against taxpayer dollars (almost always needed at least in part for a stadium suited for the NFL) being used to support a team that bolts, leaving a white elephant would be prohibitive, and could sully the negotiations for the next round of stadiums.

Carolina (1996)
Washington (1997)
Baltimore (1998)
Tampa Bay (1998)
Cleveland (1999)
Tennessee (1999)
Cincinnati (2000)
Pittsburgh (2001)
Denver (2001)
Detroit (2002)
New England (2002)
Seattle (2002)
Houston (2002)
Philadelphia (2003)
Chicago (Soldier Field renovated 2003)
Green Bay (Lambeau Field renovated 2003)
Arizona (2006)
Kansas City (Arrowhead undergoing renovations)
New York Giants (New Meadowlands Stadium under construction)
New York Jets (New Meadowlands Stadium under construction)
Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Field under construction)
Dallas Cowboys (New Cowboys Stadium under construction)

With that, we're down to 10 teams.
San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Minnesota, St. Louis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, and Jacksonville.

From here, the next logical step would be to pick the smallest media market, hoping the NFL could upgrade to LA, but frankly, since LA is the #2 media market in the country, any team would be an upgrade.

The NFL seems to be angling to get Buffalo into Toronto, so that is not an option. Miami, Buffalo, Minnesota, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Jacksonville could not be moved without a major reshuffling of divisions and upending of traditional rivalries, which was one of the main goals in the NFL's move to an 8-division system. Assuming the NFL still has respect for that tradition, we're down to 4. San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, and St. Louis.

San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland would appear to be candidates on the surface simply because of their prior ties to the LA area. However, I can't see the Raiders or Rams moving to LA....again...

As far as proposed new stadiums, San Francisco's bid for a new stadium has run into numerous political issues, making them a likely candidate. However, the NFL may be reluctant to move such a historical franchise. Prior recent relocations (Rams, Raiders, Browns/Ravens, Oilers/Titans) were largely franchises that were less than successful in those homes. I believe there are only two Super Bowl appearances between those four franchises in their former homes).

San Diego's proposed stadium has not yet panned out, and would arguably be the most minimally-impacted move since San Diego is only 2 hours away from LA, about the same distance from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Existing Chargers fans would be able to make the commute, perhaps similar to the Packers' model of having games for Milwaukee ticket-holders. The Chargers have already made LA inroads, (the Chargers already have held training camp at the Home Depot Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson), and are playing in the third-oldest stadium in the league. So of all the teams that COULD relocate, the Los Angeles Chargers appears to be the most likely on the surface. Someone who knows more about day-to-day NFL politics want to chime in?


Iain 4:32 PM  

I see a Thaksgiving game in the sun NFC North at NFC West; The St. Louis Rams at The Los Angles Lions. That or the Jaguars bump the Chiefs into the AFC South.

Vinnie 8:31 PM  

I think you're writing off some of those teams too passively. Why not Falcons and Jags? (By the way, was the Jags' stadium there before they came into the league? Or was it built in '94 when they entered? You might wanna revise that cutoff point if so.)

I don't think either of them have those important geographic rivalries (Saints and Colts, respectively I guess, but still). And neither are that spectacular as far as football cities go, I don't think. And I don't think the bugaboos of realignment would be a deciding factor.

Also, I think the San Diego faithful are pretty damned attached to the Chargers, just like Cleveland was to the Browns and Baltimore was to the Colts. Granted, those teams did move, but I think you'd have a similar uproar.

But what do I know. I'm just saying... there may be more candidates than you think.

Vinnie 8:32 PM  

I think I said "I think" in about six consecutive sentences there.

Mike 9:21 PM  

I ruled out Indy because they have a new stadium they worked pretty hard for opening up this season.

As far as Jacksonville and Atlanta, their stadiums were built/renovated just past my admittedly arbitrary 1995 mark. The Gator Bowl/Alltell Stadium/Jacksonvill Municipal Stadium was renovated for the Jags, so in a sense, you could chalk it up as 1995. The Georgia Dome was built not too long before that.

Iain 10:52 AM  

Jacksonville is the best canidate because their attentance has been going down over the past few years dispite continued improvement. The ownership has to be getting annoyed at this. Also, if the current NFL collective bargining aggreement stays in place Jacksonville will be be unable to pay players as much as some of the bigger market teams. Probally any team should wait until a collective barganing aggreement is in place before contemplating a move to LA.

michael 11:56 AM  

Most likely to move: (1) Raiders, (2) Bills, (3) Atlanta, and (4) Chargers.
Raiders have proven to be more than willing to move, plus they've been waiting for a new stadium in Oakland for 14 years. The Bills' 89-year-old owner's estate will sell the franchise to ANYONE ANYWHERE when when he passes away. The Falcons' owner has expressed a desire for a new gig, and after the franchise's many disasters the past year, there's no doubt he'd love a new start in a shiny, lucrative new place. The Chargers have a relatively close place to go if SD County does not provide a new stadium.

Mike 4:13 PM  

Just for the hell of it.

Potential Division Reshufflings: Buffalo moves

AFC West
AFC East
AFC South

Atlanta Moves
NFC West
NFC South

Jacksonville Moves
AFC West
AFC South

Nothing changes if San Francisco, Oakland or San Diego move.

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