In previous posts over the last few years, there has been discussion on this blog about whether the NFL would finally place a franchise in Los Angeles. Things seemed to be getting close in the last year, as Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) supposedly secure most of the backing and agreements needed to build Farmers Field in downtown L.A., next to the Staples Center (another AEG owned facility). The picture grew a little more cloudy when AEG said that they were going to sell off their Los Angeles based organization, allowing another investor to take over. Now there is downright chaos as it seems more conditions are on the plate for AEG, and there is also question of whether AEG has been following the proper timeline.
Amongst the discussion, is the NFL wanting a team to come to L.A. before Farmers Field is built. That would mean a franchise would need to relocate first, and then attempt to build a new facility. What this creates is the situation where a lot of cities may try to keep their teams by offering upgraded/new facilities where they are currently located. In this way, the team would be guaranteed at least a new stadium. The move to L.A. no longer seems to make a new stadium a certain thing. St. Louis and Buffalo had been two franchises that had been considered on the hot seat in regards to having their franchises pulled away to the West Coast. Now with this news, it may be that the Rams will try to leverage a potential move to get the $700 million in upgrades that St. Louis has supposedly been offering for their stadium. In this, there is certainly the question of which franchise would move to L.A., or if the NFL wants to keep it open, to continue to pull public subsidies from other cities across the country with the simple threat of “if you don’t give us a stadium, we will move to L.A.”
The second part of the most recent drama is the council that had approved the project had set a timeline two years ago for the Farmers Field project to move ahead. Currently, it would seem that the project is well off track and may not be allowed to happen at this point. Part of this deal is that AEG must finish its work on the downtown convention center it is building in L.A. before it can move forward with Farmers Field. This project is suppose to finish in the Fall of this year, but that is not certain to happen anymore.
Finally, as noted in this article from Yahoo, the NFL doesn’t believe the economics of the stadium will work for AEG.
“The numbers just don’t work, no matter how you look at the deal,” a league source said in February. “It’s either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can’t see a way for it to work.”
Officially, a league spokesman said Monday that the NFL is still tracking what AEG is trying to do.
“We continue to monitor the AEG situation and remain interested in multiple sites in the Los Angeles area,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
Sounds to me like an NFL franchise is a long way from calling downtown Los Angeles home.
Hat-tip(H/T) to my students in my sports economics class who brought up this news during our discussion on stadium subsidies today.