By Jason KUROSU
Multiple stadium proposals have rekindled talk of NFL football returning to Los Angeles, 20 years after both the Rams and Raiders departed.
Among local football fans, the chance for NFL football to return to Los Angeles is a prospect both welcoming and peculiar, with so many years since a team has played here.
Alberto Ocon, a member of the Glendale Quarterback Club, continues to follow the NFL and particularly the Raiders, who he’s been a fan of since their Los Angeles days.
Ocon said there is interest in the return of NFL football, but also apathy among some local football fans.
“There’s kind of a neutral feeling. I wouldn’t say there’s a huge desire for the NFL. It’s more like, ‘If it happens, great.’”
Ocon did say that he would be happy with any team returning.
“Any of those teams would be fantastic.”
A joint statement from the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders was issued on Feb. 19, stating both teams’ inability to find stadium solutions in their current cities and the wish to explore such a solution in Los Angeles, with specific mention of a Carson proposal.
“We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises,” the statement reads.
The Carson proposal comes courtesy of Carson 2gether, a community group committed to the stadium cause, which says that the project would be funded entirely from revenues generated by the two football teams and other events at the stadium, not taxes or the city of Carson’s general fund. The proposal calls for up to 75,000 seats and a potential 300 room hotel development.
The Carson City Council approved the $1.7 billion “Los Angeles Stadium” proposal by a unanimous 3-0 vote.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is involved with a privately financed, $1.86 billion, 80,000 seat stadium proposal for Inglewood, which gained unanimous approval from the Inglewood City Council. The stadium would be built on the site of the Hollywood Park racetrack, which was shut down in late 2013.
No mention has been made as to whether Kroenke’s Rams would be the host team for the proposed stadium. However, a St. Louis task force is also currently proposing a $985 million stadium dubbed North Riverfront Stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis. After the Rams’ current home, Edward Jones Dome, did not receive a proposed publicly-funded renovation, the Rams were able to break out of their 30-year lease with the stadium.
In addition, San Diego has assembled their own stadium task force, the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, aimed at retaining the Chargers with a stadium proposal in Mission Valley. Similar to St. Louis, current Chargers’ home Qualcomm Stadium, the fifth oldest current NFL stadium, has not received maintenance and repairs, to the point that investing in a new stadium could be more beneficial than paying to maintain Qualcomm.
The Chargers’ lease with Qualcomm is through the year 2020, though the Chargers could exercise an early termination option in order to facilitate a move to another location.
The NFL has formed a committee to oversee any potential movement of teams to Los Angeles. The Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities is composed of various league owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In addition to approval from the committee, any team moving to Los Angeles would require approval from three quarters of the league’s owners.
Rick Dinger, former president of the Quarterback Club, said, “I would love to have an NFL team in Los Angeles as long as that team is not the Raiders!”
Dinger said a returning NFL team would be beneficial for both football fans and the city at large.
“Los Angeles needs a state of the art football stadium. I have attended NFL games in seven cities (besides going to Rams and Raider games when they were in L.A. and Anaheim). I have seen how an NFL team can bring in fans and revenue plus they really boost cities’ spirit and create excitement. Jack Murphy stadium (Qualcomm) in San Diego is falling apart and the L.A. Chargers has a great ring to it.”