When it comes to talking about putting franchises in London or Los Angeles, the league routinely creates a sense of urgency that, when it comes to acting on it, doesn’t seem to actually exist.
Appearing Friday on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that a return to L.A. “within the next two to three years . . . would be in everybody’s best interest.”
The problem continues to be finding a stadium solution that is in the best interests of the NFL and the local interest that would be involved in building a stadium and buying all or part of a relocated team. For years, it’s been believed that the NFL won’t make a deal to return to the NFL unless it’s the right deal, which the ongoing lack of a deal to return to L.A. would seem to confirm.
“We’ve gone a generation — almost 20 years — without a team in L.A.,” Kraft said, via SportsBusiness Daily. “We have a generation of young people growing up not really branded and tied to a team. I think that kind of passion only comes when you have a team you can root for, and I think it’s very important.”
Kraft, who said he’d like to see two teams return to Los Angeles, hinted at one point about ESPN eventually televising a Monday Night Football game “from downtown L.A.,” a reference to the dormant-if-not-dead AEG proposal to build a stadium near Staples Center. Whether an idle comment or deliberate, finding a location for a stadium continues to be one of the biggest challenges.
“It’s complicated, because L.A. is a [big] market, the weather is great, you have so many choices,” Kraft said. “So we need to make sure we have ownership that’s passionate about the game, really feel that the franchise is one of the most important things in their life. Then we’ve got to get the right venue. Having the right venue is so critical because I don’t think we’ll get fans in the L.A. market to come if it’s not really special.”
Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times recently reported that the right venue could be a venue built and owned by the NFL. Whatever the solution, there continues to be plenty of talk about returning to Los Angeles and expanding to London, but no action.
That doesn’t mean quick action isn’t possible, especially with the two teams that left L.A. in 1995 — the Raiders and the Rams — now operating on year-to-year leases.