In three days from this writing, some college athletes will become rich young men as the NFL Draft – the biggest draft in all of sports – will commence in New York City.
Guys will hear their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and approach the podium to shake hands with him, donning the cap and holding up the jersey of their new team while the die-hard fans will cheer loudly in approval, anoiting the now-former college kid as the new savior of the Kansas City Chiefs (who will have the first pick), Jacksonville Jaguars (who pick second), Oakland Raiders (who pick third), or whatever team they go to.
But that is not what I wanted to focus on, as 2013 marks EIGHTEEN years since the National Football League had a franchise in America’s second largest city, the Raiders, along with the Rams in Anaheim, leaving Los Angeles for Oakland and St. Louis (respectively) at the end of the 1994 season.
Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Most fans thought that it would be a short matter of time before another team made L.A. their home, either via relocation or expansion. The Seattle Seahawks strongly considered pulling up stakes and moving south in the late 1990s, and a group from Houston outbid a Los Angeles group to acquire a new team, the Texans, in 2002.
Since then, as far as the issue of an NFL team in Los Angeles, the news concerning that has been full of meetings among rich men in suits, plans for new stadiums in downtown L.A. and the city of Industry, roughly 20 miles east, being mired in red tape, and unhappy – spoiled, if you asked me – NFL owners screaming they they will move to L.A. unless a deal is done for a new stadium in their town.
According to the NFL itself, the big monkey wrench preventing their league from coming back to Los Angeles is the lack of an appropriate stadium.
It has been well documented that the NFL’s powers-that-be HATE the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, the longtime home of USC football that once housed the Raiders from 1982-94 and the Rams from 1946 until 1979. In the NFL’s minds, the Coliseum is nothing but a filthy and outdated pit with no luxury boxes – the lifeblood of NFL stadiums – that is as unfit for a professional team as a place can get.
And they don’t feel that the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which although they are in the middle of building luxury suites is just as old as the Coliseum, is much better.
As for the fans themselves, for the most part they have realized that they have done just fine without the nation’s most popular sports league, thank you very much.
The two college football teams in town, USC’s Trojans and the UCLA Bruins, saw their attendance go up in the years since the Raiders and Rams bailed, and the NFL fans have found that they can easily follow their teams, whether it be the Raiders – who still have a large following in L.A. – the San Francisco 49ers, or some other team on TV and in sports bars without worrying about the league blacking out their games because they didn’t sell out.
In other words, not only have the fans in L.A. not missed the NFL nearly as much as some people would think, a number of them, if asked, would prefer that the NFL not come back to Los Angeles and spoil a good thing, ruining their good times watching the battles at home and at their favorite watering hole on Sunday afternoons.
What it all comes down to is this…
Will the National Football League ever have another team in Los Angeles?
If you ask Goodell, the NFL moguls, and the men in L.A. such as Phillip Anschutz, who have been laboring to bring a team to America’s second biggest market, they would say yes – eventually.
I, however, in my humble just-a-fan opinion, say…
The main reason I have for this answer is fairly simple:
If the NFL - who like the fans in Los Angeles have done quite well without a team in L.A. as their revenues have skyrocketed since 1995 – REALLY wanted a team in the City of Angels, they would have put one there a LONG time ago.
In short, the NFL doesn’t really need a franchise in Los Angeles; that’s why the city remains without a professional football team.
And to be honest, I truly don’t think that the fans mind, as among other things they don’t have to worry about paying several thousand dollars for Personal Seat Licenses so they can spend hundreds of dollars to buy a ticket.
So, as folks say, it is what it is.
The NFL will go on making billions, and fans of the pigskin in Los Angeles will be content with following the Bruins and Trojans in person and the Chargers, Cowboys and Steelers on TV.
Which – no matter what anyone else says – will suit everyone just fine.