Ground won’t be broken on a new stadium in L.A. until a team is lined up to play there. And once it’s known that a team will be playing there, it means that the team will have a hard time continuing to play in the “there” that they’ll be abandoning.
So a temporary home in Los Angeles will be needed. And it’s looking like that place will be the Rose Bowl.
According to the Pasadena Sun (via SportsBusiness Daily), the powers-that-be in that Southern California city voted on Tuesday to allow an expansion of the permissible number of annual events at the Rose Bowl from 12 to 25. After a five-hour meeting that included plenty of citizens who complained about the traffic, noise, and other drawbacks to hosting NFL games, Pasadena City Council voted 7-1 to approve the increase for up to five years.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to the whole city to take the next step,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. I’m not excited about the NFL, and clearly [the Rose Bowl’s neighbors] are not excited, but it’s the responsible thing to do.”
Six years ago, a divided council blocked by one vote the possibility of the Rose Bowl providing a permanent home for an NFL team. “[T]his is different,” Councilman Steve Madison said. “This is a temporary matter when we have dire financial needs.”
Currently, the Rose Bowl hosts UCLA home games and, yes, the Rose Bowl.
The addition of 13 events and not 12 adds a little potential intrigue to the move. With the NFL’s current scheduling formula putting the maximum number of home games in any given season at 12, the expansion to 13 hints at either a Super Bowl or an extra home game that would come from expanding the regular season to 18 games and keeping the preseason at four.
The more likely (but far less interesting) explanation is that some NFL regular seasons finish in early January, which could result in a maximum of 13 regular-season games played in a given stadium in a full calendar year, if the next regular season finishes in December.
Either way, the foundation has been put in place for L.A. to house a team temporarily, while it’s permanent house is being built.
The biggest problem for the NFL could be coming up with a way to relax the blackout rule, given that it will be a tall order to fill the continuous bowl to its 92,000-seat capacity on a consistent basis.