NFL Still Looking For the Right LA Deal, Not AEG or McCourt

As Los Angeles approaches 20 years without professional football, developer assurances aside, it would appear that the NFL is enamored with neither Ed Roski’s LA Stadium proposal, nor AEG and Philip Anschutz’ Farmers’ Field plans.

Now four years in the making and still without the turn of a shovel, Roski still has his City of Industry 75,000 seat stadium at the cross roads of the Pomona and Orange Freeways on track towards construction as soon as the NFL says they’re coming, or so he says. Anschutz has paid off every politician west of of the Rockies for a slew of legislation paving the way for him to bypass normal environmental impact studies and prohibiting municipalities and interest groups from delaying construction through litigation. His massive project across from his Staples Center requires that the Los Angeles Convention Center be torn asunder and rebuilt a block away from the current site. Yea, LA’s political elite AGREED to that deal. He has been shopping for a team for years now, but his requirement that he become the majority owner of the team that chooses to relocate to his stadium has been a turnoff to every owner who would consider the move.

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And now, low and behold, this week’s LA litigation news has revealed that the site the NFL now wants is nestled right next to Dodgers’ Stadium. Given the history of that location as a site for a football stadium, one has to contemplate the interrelationship of the NFL to the progression of Dodgers’ ownership over the past couple of decades, and what might have been.

As I’ve written about before, former Dodgers’ owner Peter O’Malley wanted to build a football stadium next to his baseball park and bring the NFL back to LA as soon as the Rams and Raiders left following the 1994 season. However, then LA Mayor Richard Riordan and the LA City Council, lead by then Councilman and now County Supervisor Mark RIdley-Thomas emphatically said no!. Their position, and the official position of the City of Los Angeles, was that any new football team could play its games in one place, and only in one place, the decrepit, moribund LA Coliseum. Rebuffed by his political “friends”, O’Malley decided it was time to leave the LA sports scene, and he decided to sell the Dodgers.

Thus, this political thuggery gave LA and the Dodgers the miserable years of ownership from first Fox and then Frank McCourt, and it kept the NFL from coming to a new stadium next to Dodgers’ Stadium, for all these years.

Now, the LA Times and the NFL has pursued litigation for release of documents that show what ownership interest McCourt has retained in the land surrounding Dodgers’ Stadium following his sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management. The TImes sued for release of this material, asserting in part, a substantial public interest in the information, and the Court agreed, with judge Scott Gordon ordering the document release by June 17. Reports are that Guggenheim and the NFL are serious about a deal, but that while the NFL would work with the Guggs and their billions of dollars, and Magic Johnson as the public face of the organization, they would NOT enter into a deal in which McCourt will be a part owner.

So, if McCourt can be removed from the equation, the next phase of Los Angeles’ NFL Dreams will center around Elysian Park, where we could have been watching O’Malley’s Dodgers and footballers play, all these years.

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