Plenty of owners have mused over the years about the possible return of the NFL to Los Angeles. When the owner who serves as chairman of the league’s stadium committee chimes in, it’s time to listen closely.
Steelers president Art Rooney, II, whose pre-draft trip to Minnesota helped light a fire under the process of taking the Vikings out of the running for running an out route to L.A., thinks that the 17-year vacuum will be filled in the not-too-distant future.
“I would think that, within five years, L.A. would have a team,” Rooney recently told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s two teams. I wouldn’t want to make a prediction, but I would be comfortable saying one. But there’s certainly a chance there will be two.”
Putting two teams in L.A. helps justify the cost of a stadium, which for one NFL team is used only 10 times per year, plus possible playoffs.
The process of negotiating a stadium deal while also lining up a team to play there gets delicate the closer it comes to fruition. The venue won’t get the green light without a team, and the team won’t commit to coming without the green light. Both ends need to come together simultaneously, and it’s critical that the NFL keep it all under wraps as long as possible, so that if it falls apart the team that would have abandoned its current market can still survive there.
A shovel-ready project exists in the City of Industry. The preferred location seems to be the Farmers Field, the downtown spot that has a naming-rights deal without a stadium deal. “I think progress is being made,” Rooney said. “I’m not sure I’d say it’s a done deal yet; some work needs to be done. But they’re making progress, and I think site selection will probably be the next thing that happens.”
Though Rooney isn’t quoted as identifying teams, the story lists the Chargers, Raiders, Rams, and possibly the Jaguars as candidates for relocation.
It’s easy to dismiss the talk based on the fact that there has been plenty of past talk, but no action. Still, Rooney doesn’t seem like a guy who wastes words. And he’s in as good a position as anyone to know what’s going on.