For the first time in years, LA football fans should be excited. Today, Ed Roski unveiled plans for a new NFL stadium in the City of Industry, which he says could be completed by 2011. The stadium designs, which can be seen at http://losangelesfootballstadium.com/, look terrific and it's exactly what this region needs to build in order to bring the NFL back. Building it into a hillside will cut down on costs and is reminiscent of Dodger Stadium. Placing all of the luxury suites on one side will improve sightlines. And it appears that the land will include a training facility.
Some skeptics have already spoken up, and questioned whether this could actually become a reality. But Roski's plan is different. As Sam Farmer notes in the LA Times, Roski "controls the land necessary to build the stadium, training facilities and related development; and he already has a certified environmental impact report for the site.” Roski has a proven track record of success. He doesn't have to deal with any of the LA city political garbage that helped derail past stadium plans. And his plan is 100-percent privately funded (although I haven't seen specific finances, he has said taxpayers won't be involved at all). The story about an alleged political setback in Sacramento is unfounded, because the two items basically are unrelated.
It's understandable that people in LA have so-called "deal fatigue." But Angelenos have to understand that local politicians like Mark Ridley-Thomas and other members of the Coliseum Commission effectively hijacked most LA football proposals for years in an effort to rally support around an unfeasible and untenable Coliseum plan. People like Peter O'Malley, who wanted to build a stadium at Chavez Ravine, were unable to develop any meaningful plans. It was only after the Coliseum proposal finally died (it only took 13 years) that local developers like Roski could begin to explore other ideas. It's also been speculated that Frank McCourt is working on another Chavez Ravine plan, but we've yet to see that come to fruition.
Some have said that bringing football to LA isn't a high priority for the NFL right now, and that it won't happen any time soon. But it doesn't have to be a high priority to actually happen. I'm guessing that it wasn't a high priority for the NFL in 1995 to see Rams move to St. Louis or the Raiders move to Oakland, but it happened anyways. The NFL office in New York has a good-sized staff and they can simultaneously work on LA, a new labor deal, NFL Network, etc. NFL owners know that a team in LA will bring them more revenue through revenue sharing, and it will increase the profile of the league.
What needs to happen is for a team to express interest in moving to LA. There are several viable candidates. The San Diego Chargers can get out of Qualcomm Stadium as early as next year, and can pay less to the city of San Diego if they wait 2 years. The Chargers have discussed a new stadium in Chula Vista, but that hasn't materialized yet, and there have been reports that the city may request the team have "Chula Vista" in the name. Why be the Chula Vista Chargers, when you can play in LA?
On this web site in the past, we've discussed possible scenarios in which the Jaguars and Bills can play here. The Minnesota Vikings also have a tough stadium situation, and conspiracy theorists have already noted that the new stadium design has purple seats. There have been rumors about the Raiders possibly moving back to LA once Al Davis eventually loses control of the organization. And, while few people want to see the Saints leave New Orleans, they did seem on the verge of moving before Hurricane Katrina and are obviously in a difficult situation right now.
At the end of the day though, the Los Angeles area took a major step forward today in its effort to bring the NFL back. The Roski plan is far and away the best and most realistic plan that's been proposed since the city's loss to Houston in 1999. It's not on a toxic waste dump in Carson. It's not opposed by local residents like in Pasadena. And it costs hundreds of millions of dollars less than a Coliseum renovation that the NFL has effectively opposed for 13 years. With a legitimate stadium plan out there, it's up to an NFL owner to realize that he can be far more successful in Los Angeles than in his current market.