If you asked me yesterday afternoon what the chances of an NFL team moving to L.A. were in the next five years, I’d have told you zero. I’ve contended from the very beginning that the City of Industry stadium bid by Ed Roski will never happen, and there’s been nothing in recent months to suggest otherwise.
(1201 Figueroa St.: NFL’s newest address?)
But last night here in Los Angeles something happened that makes me think we will indeed have NFL football here in the next five years. Maybe sooner.
Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk both reported last night that AEG, the company that built Staples Center and the successful L.A. Live downtown entertainment complex - and has an extensive resume of building sports facilities around the world - is again interested in building a NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
Farmer reported Thursday that AEG President Tim Leiweke and prominent L.A. businessman Casey Wasserman are spearheading the possible plan:
They are investigating the possibility of building a stadium behind Staples Center, where the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center now sits, with the idea of replacing that convention space elsewhere in the general area.
As noted by Farmer, AEG, Leiweke and Wasserman went to the well eight years ago with the city of L.A. to try to get a deal done for a downtown football yard, but political grandstanding by L.A. Coliseum district city councilman Bernard Parks gummed up the works.
But now the political landscape of Los Angeles has completely changed. The city council is wildly unpopular thanks to the financial mismanagement of the city and AEG and Leiweke are riding high after re-invigorating downtown with the L.A. Live development. (In all honesty, they really did work miracles.)
So with that leverage, and sad sack L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in his pocket, Leiweke is back at the ready to push for an NFL facility on the site where the dilapidated Los Angeles Convention Center still stands.
It goes without saying that AEG has infinitely more experience at building world class sports facilities than the Roski group in Industry, but that isn’t to say that Roski won’t be helpful in making the AEG downtown NFL stadium bid a reality.
The NFL has made it obvious in its approach to getting a stadium done in L.A. the past decade that the process requires more than one party bidding for the right to host a relocated team. So now if an an NFL team is interested in L.A., it potentially could have two parties, AEG and Roski, bidding on the chance to build a stadium for a team.
Of course, the only realistic possibility for an NFL franchise would be a deal with AEG, but the NFL isn’t going to tell Roski that in the hope that he’ll cause AEG to offer the NFL a sweeter deal in as part of a relocation formula.
When you look at AEG’s sports facility resume, the changed L.A. political landscape and the presence of Roski to theoretically reduce AEG’s leverage with the NFL in a relocation deal, all of the pieces are finally in place for the NFL to come back to Los Angeles.
UPDATE (1:50p ET): Per Florio at PFT, Howard Balzer of the ST. LOUIS GLOBE-DEMOCRAT reports that one of the prospective new majority owners of the St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke, “is a member of the league’s Los Angeles Stadium Working Group committee.”
It turns out Kroenke is a member of the league’s Los Angeles Stadium Working Group committee. Roll that one around in your mind a few minutes. Everyone I mentioned that to Thursday was silent for a few seconds, and then said, “Oh, my God.”
It means Kroenke is privy to every detail, every plan, simply everything that is related to those trying to get a stadium built there.
With billionaire Kroenke currently grappling for control of the franchise, makes you wonder if the AEG bid popping back up is mere coincidence.