Going Back to Cali

Andrew Speers, Staff Writer

The National Football League is the most popular sports league today and more cities wish to have a team to call their own. Places such as London and San Antonio have recently been lobbying for football since the NFL has began hosting annual games in London’s Wembley Stadium. San Antonio already has a stadium which housed a successful USFL franchise in the 1980s. But the most prolific city that is in need of a team is Los Angeles. Los Angeles has always wanted an NFL organization to call the “So Cal” metropolis home, but often times the calls have fallen on deaf ears. The St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders, who once played in LA are possibly eyeing a move back.

The odds of the NFL deciding to add an expansion franchise is slim. With already 32 teams, two more than the other major US sports, the NFL will likely not add the burden of another team. Also, the addition of a 33rd team will lead to concerns of fairness, being that one conference will have one less team to play. In reality, the league would need to add a 34th team to the mix, to even things out. The NFL will not entertain this proposal for many more years.

The most likely event, if a team moves to LA, will be the prospects of the Rams or Raiders moving back to Los Angeles. This seems like the best situation for all involved. Both the Rams and the Raiders finished toward the bottom of the NFL in attendance in last season, 31st and 30th respectively. But the biggest concern for teams is profitability. Since the NFL shares revenue for the players salary cap to the tune of $6 billion in 2014, the entities of a team that cannot be shared determine how much the team is worth. These include merchandise, box seats leased by corporations and non-football events in a team owned stadium.

According to a 2013 article by Forbes, the Rams are the least profitable team in the NFL. In 2013, the Rams only generated $930 million in total value, compared to the Dallas Cowboys $3 billion. The fact is the Rams are not succeeding in St. Louis. The Rams, simply unable to copy the success of the Cardinals and the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have floundered.

Oakland has a handle on the Raiders. The Raiders aren’t valued much more than the Rams (at $970 million), but they have a loyalty with the city of Oakland. The Rams are the better candidate for the move.

LA has some things to work on if they are going to entice a franchise. First off, the stadium situation is the main reason both the Raiders and the Rams left in 1995. The LA Coliseum, the athletic stable of the city, cannot hold an NFL team with the corporate boxes and suites needed to sustain corporate backing. It is a college stadium and fits better with its current tenant, the USC Trojans. Not to mention the stadium is owned by the University of Southern California.

The Rose Bowl, the other large football complex in LA, falls into the same concerns. The current team playing there, the UCLA Bruins, offer a better situation for the stadium. The city would need to construct a new, NFL capable stadium to attract the Rams or Raiders. This will be costly and many in LA wonder if the costs will be worth the possible rewards. Secondly, like any new city looking for a team, the corporate backing will be important. Owning or supporting a sports team is a very costly endeavor. Owners of potential LA franchises will need to weigh the risk of moving a team to a city without an NFL ready stadium, with the rewards of a potentially loyal and large fan base.

However, fans of LA football don’t need to worry. The question is not if they get a team, but when. LA will get a football team at some point in the not so distant future. But with stadium ready and funded cities such as London and San Antonio, Los Angeles may not be the next city to receive an NFL franchise.

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