NFL Loves L.A., Will L.A. Love It Back?
The memo, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, reinforces the league's desire to put a team (and possibly two) back into the country's second-largest media market after a nearly 20-year absence. With the Chargers, Raiders, Rams and Jaguars all rumored to be considering a move to L.A., Goodell's memo reminded teams that the league – and not individual clubs – will dictate the terms of the relocation process.
The next order of business for the league is to determine where that new stadium will be. The dueling options include an AEG-backed plan in downtown or Ed Roski's proposed stadium in the City of Industry. However, Goodell mentioned considering others sites around the Los Angeles area.
But if you build it, will they come? Or better yet, will they come back?
In a town that loves buzz and adores a winner, it could be incumbent upon any franchise that lands here to find success quickly. Buzz fades in a hurry and where losing might be met with frustration and derision in other cities, in Los Angeles, it's frequently greeted with a shrug and another Sunday afternoon spent on Santa Monica's sunny shores. Just ask the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Galaxy were the toughest ticket in town when David Beckham arrived in 2007. Yet after a pair of mediocre finishes that saw the team miss the playoffs, attendance sagged until a three-year run of success culminated with an MLS Cup. That's not intended to be a treatise of the merits of the Los Angeles Sports Fan. It simply is, as the kids say, what it is.
There's also the issue of building a fan base. Los Angeles is loaded with NFL fans … they're just not all cheering for the same team and it could take some time to build a strong following for “someone else's team”. Not to mention that L.A. viewers currently are treated to weekly doubleheaders and are usually guaranteed the marquee game of the week, will it be worth it for some fans to give that up for a team they may not be emotionally invested in?
Of course, all of that is still well down the road. With the league's track record of success, there's no reason to think these discussions and plenty more are taking place regularly amongst owners and NFL executives. But after nearly 20 years, Angelenos have learned that the NFL needs L.A. a lot more than L.A. needs the NFL.