It is easy to say that football is the most popular sport in America. Millions clamor into stadiums, pubs, and living rooms on Sunday afternoons, and live and die on every play. With some of the most loyal and rabid fans in sports today, the NFL pulls in over 9 billion dollars a year. However, there are always ways to increase that profit. One of the ways in which the NFL is exploring increased revenue is through the relocation of a team to Los Angeles, where they haven’t had a team since the mid-90’s.
Although there is more money to be made in the huge market that is Los Angeles, relocation does cause anxiety for the fans that reside in cities rumored to be on the move. The three most rumored franchises that could be headed to L.A. are the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and St. Louis Rams. This process of possible relocation would potentially affect the ability of fans in these cities to see games, or what team they are able to see in their hometown.
This move also affects media markets as fans of teams that have moved could still want to support those teams. Without the option to watch games on local channels, fans may have to take advantage of free upgrades that are offered by television providers in order to gain extra channels and continue to support their team. With multiple teams competing for moves to this market, there is likely to be at least one team in L.A. in the next few years.
NFL Relocation Policy/History
This is the most recent, but not the first time that the NFL has had to deal with the subject of team relocation. The official stance of the NFL is that a team must have approval of three-quarters of the league’s 32 teams in order to successfully relocate. However teams have moved without the permission of the league before.
One of the most famous examples of relocation is the former Baltimore Colts, who bolted for Indianapolis in the middle of the night, despite having no formal approval from the league. Also, one of the teams vying for space in L.A. has already been there once before. The Oakland Raiders were moved from Oakland to L.A. and back by former owner Al Davis. Davis ended up in a legal battle over whether or not he could move; he won. While the league says it requires approval, the ability to move may be based on how willing an owner is to battle it out in court.
The St. Louis Situation
The city of St. Louis, has had an up and down relationship with its NFL Franchises. The first team that consistently played in St. Louis was the St. Louis Cardinals (not the baseball team) but they moved to Arizona after the 1988 season. In 1995 St. Louis got their football back with the Rams moving from L.A., and now they could be headed back. With the city due for a new stadium, contractually, the Rams owner is eyeing L.A. as an alternative option.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke has been ambiguous publicly about his intentions to move the team; never saying that he plans to move them, but not ruling it out either. Kroenke has purchased enough land in Inglewood, California to build a new 80,000 seat stadium. Although, the Rams won’t go easily with Governor Jay Nixon putting together a task force to keep the team in St. Louis. There have been rumors of other teams coming to St. Louis if Kroenke does move the team, but this is mostly speculation as no decisions have been made.
The San Diego/Oakland Situation
The other two teams currently in the running for the space in L.A. already reside in California in the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. The inquiry of these two teams also has to do with new stadiums. With Neither team confident that they can get a new stadium deal in their current city they have collaborated on a stadium proposal that would have them sharing the L.A. market.
The Chargers have played in San Diego for their franchise life, however funding a new stadium is proving difficult for the franchise. The Raiders are also motivated by the media market. Although they have one of the most loyal fan bases in football, they have resided in L.A. once already and have a significant fan base built there already.
One thing is certain, fans want to know where their teams will be playing. The off-season owners meetings have been the place for these deliberations to take place. The league and its owners are set to here proposals from all teams interested in moving, in the near future.