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Who is moving to LA?

By: Nick Johns

Los Angeles

This week the often loose lipped Jerry Jones spilled the beans and told the media that the NFL is the closest it has ever been to returning a team to Los Angeles. And by a team I really mean two teams. It’s no secret that the NFL wants back into the second largest market in America, and the rumors about two teams coming to town aren’t exactly new.

We’ve all heard a few names thrown around. The Vikings, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders, Chargers, and Rams have all been talked about when it comes to a possible move to L.A. Let’s go through those really quick to discuss the likelihood that these teams move.

Minnesota Vikings

Rumors about a Vikings move popped up around the time of the collapse of the Metrodome roof. The Vikings wanted a new stadium and wanted partial public funding. Once the roof collapsed, things really came to a head. There was a brief struggle between the state of Minnesota and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf over the design of a new stadium. Wilf wanted an outdoor stadium so that his team could play football in the cold and snow like it was meant to be played, but the state insisted that since public funds would go toward building the stadium that it must be enclosed so that it can be used for other events besides the eight home Vikings games (ten if you count preseason, but you shouldn’t because preseason games are just glorified scrimmages). Wilf used the threat of relocation to try to strong arm the state into building an outdoor stadium but the state called Wilf’s bluff and told him to go ahead and relocate, at which point Wilf agreed to have a roof. With major stadium plans in the works the Vikings are going to stay put.

Likelihood of moving: 0%

Miami Dolphins

Not too long ago I wrote an article about the stadium debacle with the Miami Marlins possibly pushing the Dolphins out of Miami. Basically, the Marlins promised the city that if they got a new stadium they’d be able to put together a better team. $2.6 billion of taxpayer money later, the Marlins dumped all of the marquee players they signed to hold up their end of the deal and the taxpayers are understandably furious and refuse to fund any more stadium projects. The Dolphins are making a real attempt to rebuild their franchise and are playing in a stadium that needs major upgrades, upgrades it won’t get. Like the Vikings, the Dolphins are using the threat of relocation as leverage to try to upgrade Sun Life Stadium, but ultimately the Dolphins will have to pay for any stadium improvements.

Likelihood of moving: 5%

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are the team that I think should relocate. Their attendance isn’t all that great, Jacksonville is a small market, and the team is so bad that a move and re-branding is about the only thing that can get fans interested in them. The real question mark in all of this is Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. Previous owner Wayne Weaver was adamant about keeping the team in Jacksonville, and when Khan bought the team many wondered if he did so with the intention of moving to Los Angeles. Khan publicly stated that he intended to keep the team in Jacksonville, but he is a smart businessman who also owns Fulham F.C. Of the English Premier League. He understands the business aspect of owning a sports team and as an owner of a team based in London, he’s well aware of the benefits of playing in a major market.

Likelihood of moving: 60%

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have ties to L.A., are looking to build a new stadium, and their lease expires art the end of the season. That all said, I think the likelihood isn’t as high as other people seem to think it is. The Raiders are currently looking into a location in Oakland on which to build a new stadium and the city of Oakland is eager to keep its sports franchises, all of which are contemplating moves. The issue seems to be the funding. The Raiders are financially strapped right now. Feasibility studies to determine how big the stadium should be and what it would cost determined that there is only enough demand to warrant a 56,500 stadium, which would be the smallest in the NFL. This stadium would cost $800 million, $300 million of which would have to come from public funds. While a move to Los Angeles would mean a new 75,000 seat stadium, the timing of the expiration of the Raiders’ lease would mean the stadium would need to be completed by next summer.

Likelihood of moving: 30%

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are the team that I think is most likely to move to Los Angeles. Attendance and general fan support for the team isn’t very high in San Diego and the team lacks any sort of strong connection to the city (not like the connection the Packers have to Green Bay). I think it would be fairly easy for fans to get behind the L.A. Chargers, I just hope that those dark blue uniforms get lost in the move and the Chargers have to go back to the powder blue.

Likelihood of moving: 95%

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are another team with ties to Los Angeles and low fan support and a bad stadium. Their lease with St. Louis doesn’t expire until 2025 but becomes year-to-year if stadium upgrades aren’t made. According to the Associated Press, the city of St. Louis has no plans to make the improvements the Rams have proposed, which would cost in the neighborhood of $700 million, so it’s likely the Rams will be the second team to relocate. This one tears me up a little bit. I always hate to see a city with fond memories of a championship winning franchise lose their team and have to watch another city celebrate those accomplishments like they belong to that city. Indianapolis doesn’t have the right to claim the ’58 NFL Championship or Johnny Unitas, Tennessee doesn’t have the right to claim Earl Campbell, and nobody but St. Louis has a right to claim The Greatest Show on Turf. If it were up to me, any team that move should have to leave the team’s history behind so that a new team can come to town and continue the legacy like the Browns did when they moved to Baltimore. At the same time though, Los Angeles had to watch as St. Louis claimed great players like Deacon Jones, Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, and Eric “those other guys have way cooler names than me but I have the single season rushing record” Dickerson. My feelings about teams leaving their cities aside, this is my bet for the second team in Los Angeles.

Likelihood of moving: 90%

I think the Chargers have basically started packing and the Rams aren’t far behind. I’d rather see the Jaguars move than the Rams, but a move by the Rams and the Chargers allows the NFL to keep the divisions as they are. If the Raiders moved it would there wouldn’t be a need for realignment, but with the Chargers being the frontrunners to move to Los Angeles it wouldn’t make sense to have two teams from the same division in the same city.

I personally think the NFL should only put one team in L.A. After all, sports teams don’t abandon major markets unless there are serious issues with fan support. Any new team will have to find a way to compete with the Lakers, Clippers, Angels, and Dodgers for the fans’ money, they don’t need competition from another NFL team too. The NFL needs fans to get excited about football in L.A. And having two options would just lead to fans not knowing which team they should become a die hard fan of so they won’t get excited about either team.

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