May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft 2015: Why is Los Angeles a finalist?

News broke Thursday via NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league has narrowed its list of potential 2015 NFL Draft hosts down to only Chicago and Los Angeles.

The league has pinpointed two possible weekends to host the draft: April 22-25 or April 29-May 2. With the Radio City Music Hall unavailable the entire months of April and May, the event will be held in a new venue for the first time in 10 years, and in a different city for the first time since 1965.

Though the NFL reportedly held discussions over simply choosing a new venue within New York City–both Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center were ruled out due to NBA and NHL schedules–it makes sense that Goodell would look to move the draft simply as another way to spruce up the event.

Back in June, our own editor Jason Gold explained why Los Angeles is the perfect city for the NFL draft from an operational standpoint:

Los Angeles, as we know, is the media and entertainment capital of the world and would be able to put together an NFL Draft in no time. The Draft is essentially just a three day long award show with a different cast of characters. LA is built for award shows! Plus, the NFL already has the NFL Network in LA, which makes the logistic of broadcasting the draft a lot easier.

Surely one of the city’s iconic theaters–Chinese, Nokia, Kodak, etc–can take a break from movie premieres and awards shows to usher in the newest wave of college football stars to the pros.

My only wonder, with the nearest NFL stadium three traffic-filled hours south of the Walk of Fame, is why? No doubt the event would be a success. But why Los Angeles?

(Note: The following contains a grossly oversimplified discussion on franchise relocation.)

But Micky, you just answered your own question. This is a step in the right direction towards getting an NFL franchise (or two) to the country’s second-largest city.


So the league that watched two teams bail on Los Angeles in 1995 thinks city officials will be so blown away by yet another red carpet that they will simply relent after years of opposing various stadium finance proposals.

Maybe not, but the league doesn’t necessarily need that kind of cooperation if a new stadium gets private financing, right? I’m no expert in public policy, or NFL policy for that matter, but I imagine a business potentially worth billions of dollars can’t just set up shop.

In the words of Jalen Rose/The O’Jays, you’ve got to give the people, give the people what they want. That’s it! Goodell is making an appeal to the people of Los Angeles to demonstrate how desperately they want a team to call their own.

You’ll find some support for the cause here or there, but the overarching sentiment is that native Los Angelenos aren’t clamoring for it to happen. Though this particular writing on the wall/internet dates back to 2007, NBC News’ David Sweet was on to something when he generalized that, “When the Raiders and Rams departed in 1994, Angelenos yawned before going surfing.” Most of the population are transplants with their own team to follow anyhow. Would you want to root for the Jacksonville Jaguars of Los Angeles?

And does the NFL even want a franchise in Los Angeles? It seems that the league prefers the threat of moving a team to Los Angeles, rather than actually going through with it. Perhaps that’s why it has become exceedingly difficult to strike a deal. Here’s an excerpt from Sam Farmer’s take on the St. Louis Rams possibly coming West, recorded on Peter King’s MMQB podcast after the Super Bowl (h/t Randy Karraker):

“I’m a cynic. I’ve covered this for eighteen years now, and I’m cynical about anything getting done in Los Angeles. I think it’s so complex, and I always revert to what one owner told me, talking about the competitiveness of L.A. and how you will get kneecapped if you try to get by another competitor. An owner told me that in L.A. you don’t root for your competition to fail, you root for your competition to die, so once one stadium proposal rises up, you’re going to have the others take it out in any way possible.”

Karraker adds that with all of the factors included, relocation could cost as much as starting an expansion team, that is to say in the $2-3 billion range.

Back to the people. If the league has no designs on inspiring a new fan base, then they must simply want to strengthen the NFL brand. (Side note: I’d be willing to bet the average football fan doesn’t know that NFL Network’s headquarters are in LA.)

Do NFL execs even watch the draft? The only people who attend are the adults shameless enough to wear oversized NFL jerseys in public, of which I imagine there are few in LA. This isn’t a third-world country where you can show up for a one-time event and leave a lasting footprint. Los Angeles is already an extremely profitable TV market, according to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, because the league can hand pick what games the city gets.

On the flipside of that, the league views the draft as a marquee event that will get even bigger by going “Hollywood.” That makes as much sense as stretching the event to FOUR DAYS. Watching the draft on television, you could tell me it’s being hosted in a television studio and I wouldn’t know the difference because it’s inside. I get that movie premieres and awards shows belong in Hollywood, because they’re made here.

The NFL is made in Cleveland, Ohio, and Kansas City, Missouri. Let the 30 cities with an actual team in the league host the draft on a rotating basis, or at least choose from a willing group.

Through all this soul searching, I still have no answer as to why the NFL would host the draft in Los Angeles. I’ll just have to settle for “because it’s LA.”

Let us know in the poll if you want the NFL Draft in Los Angeles, and tell us why in the comments below.

 

Do you want the 2015 NFL Draft to be held in Los Angeles?

Tags: NFL Draft Roger Goodell

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