The threat of Los Angeles is a powerful one for the NFL
Feb 17, 2015, 6:29 PM | Updated: 6:29 pm
The NFL has always been a progressive sports league but what they have done with the L.A. market may be their masterpiece.
When the Rams moved from L.A. to St. Louis in 1994 — a team I was on — there was an obvious void in the #2 market in the country. Most of the experts believed it would be only a matter of time before another NFL franchise swooped into the market to feed off the goodness of the land. They were wrong and, truth be told, so was I.
L.A. has remained void of an NFL franchise for 20 years. During that dispensation, the NFL has opened 21 new stadiums. I don’t think this was a coincidence. The NFL has used the lure of L.A. and its market size as an anvil to forge stadium development all over the league.
The NFL wants and the NFL gets or the NFL goes bye-bye. Ask Minnesota (the Vikings threatened to leave and they got a new stadium); Ask St. Louis (they built a new stadium for the Rams and now are faced with building another one to keep them); Ask Cleveland (the city lost the Browns because they wouldn’t build a stadium); Ask L.A.
The NFL has never had more leverage than they do right now and they’re taking advantage of that leverage. Although some stadiums built around the country during the last two decades involve large contributions of private monies, the majority still involved public funds as the driving force behind their construction. And teams used the plausibility of the L.A. market, and their potential move to such a market, as football fodder.
The NFL knows it will return to the L.A. market sooner than later but it has used the lure of sunshine, market size and potential profits to compel other stadium-challenged markets to get their act together. Yes, it’s empty now but it was, is, and will be a plausible option for the Raiders, Chargers and Rams until these communities build new stadiums for their respective teams.
Apparently, the only thing more powerful than L.A. is the threat of L.A.