The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have begun the process of bringing the NFL back to the Los Angeles market, announcing this week that they are joining forces in hopes of building a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California. The two teams contend they are pursuing options to stay in their current cities, but they are preparing to move if they cannot get new stadiums in Oakland or San Diego.
The AFC West rivals aren’t the only teams that has eyes on moving to L.A., as St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke reportedly has plans of building a stadium in Inglewood. Los Angeles won’t get three NFL teams, but some experts believe that professional football will return to the area.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there will be a team, and probably two, in Los Angeles in 2016,” said ESPN’s Chris Mortenson.
Despite Mortenson’s apparent confidence, it won’t be easy for Los Angeles to get a team. It’s been 20 years since L.A. had a team, and even though there have been a great number of discussions about a stadium being built and potential tenants, none have come to fruition.
“Everybody thinks you can just get up and move, and you’ll win the court battle,” Mortenson continued. “It’s not as simple as that. The league feels like they wrote, legally, a pretty good policy in effect that they control the L.A. market, not an owner who just wants to randomly move there.”
Before a team can move, they need approval from 24 of the 32 owners. In 2012, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to every franchise, detailing the rules for a team moving to the L.A. area. Goodell stated that the NFL doesn’t want teams to move to Los Angeles without a stadium in place, with plans to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or Rose Bowl until they can find a solution for a new permanent stadium.
The Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982-1994, and though there have been rumors of the team returning in past years, they’ve remained in the Bay Area. When Shahid Khan bought the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, there was speculation that he would move the team to L.A., but the team stayed put. There were discussions about the Minnesota Vikings moving to Los Angeles when they wanted public funding for a new stadium in 2012, and they soon found themselves with a new venue in their current city.
The NFL is the only one of the four major sports without a team in the Los Angeles market, let alone two, which is the case in the NBA, MLB and NHL. While the league might have designs of bringing football back to the country’s second-largest city, there’s still time for the Raiders and Chargers to stay put.
The Houston Oilers were the last NFL team to relocate, moving to Tennessee in 1997, and becoming the Titans in 1999.