Unbuilt Downtown Los Angeles Stadium Gets $600 Million Naming-Rights Deal (UPDATE)

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AEG and Farmers Insurance announced a 30-year,  $600 million naming-rights deal with as as yet unbuilt stadium in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday.

The proposed 1.7 million square foot, 68,000-seat football stadium, which currently has no architect, site approvals, or team, would be named Farmers Field, cost $1 billion, and be adjacent to the Staples Center which houses the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers of the NBA, the NHL's Kings and the Sparks of the WNBA. It's seen as an opportunity to become another cog in the continued economic development and revitalization of the downtown area.

But most importantly, the stadium would reunite the NFL with the country's second-biggest media market, which hasn't had a professional football team since 1995 when the Rams relocated to St. Louis and the Raiders moved back to Oakland following the 1994 season.

So which team will be coming to this new stadium? There is no word yet as to whether a franchise will relocate or an expansion franchise would be granted to Los Angeles but given the relative symmetry of the 32-team, eight-division league, the most likely outcome is relocation. The franchise that would relocate is unknown currently, but there are several that will rumored to be on the move. Who are the likely candidates?

The Minnesota Vikings currently play their home games at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which opened in 1982. The Metrodome was the subject of national news last December when a historic snowfall caused damage to the roof and resulted in the team being forced to play a home game at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, the team's first outdoor game in 29 years. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has been seeking a new stadium for the team since taking over ownership in 2005, and dialed up his efforts following the opening of Target Field, the new home of MLB's Minnesota Twins, this past season. Unless Wilf secures the Vikings-exclusive stadium he seeks, the proposed Los Angeles stadium will make an appealing option. Furthermore, Wilf will be able to use the new LA stadium as leverage in future negotiations with Minnesota state officials.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have played all of their home games at Everbank Field (which has been renamed several times) since joining the league before the 1995 season. Despite some success during their run, the Jaguars have never been able to make real inroads in the football-mad state and remain one of the league's least desirable draws in terms of ticket sales, occasionally becoming the subject of local television blackouts. Moving to a new stadium and a much larger market would undoubtedly end future blackout worries as well as jump the franchise several spots ahead in the list of most valuable NFL franchises.

The San Diego Chargers might be the most likely franchise to head to LA of them all. Last December, rumors swirled that AEG's Philip Anschutz had actually bought a portion of the team and planned to move them to the proposed stadium. However, such a deal has not yet been struck and the official word from the Chargers ownership group is that the team is investigating the viability of building a new stadium in downtown San Diego.

These three teams are only the most likely teams to move to Los Angeles when and if Farmers Field is built, but in the NFL anything is possible when billions of potential dollars are involved. We won't know for some time which team will call Farmers Field home, but when we do, it will be one of the biggest stories for the biggest league in the U.S.

UPDATE: According to CNBC's Jane Wells, the value of the naming-rights deal increases to $1 billion if two NFL franchises come to the proposed stadium. Given the LA's history of housing the Raiders and Rams at the Coliseum as well as New York's dual-team stadiums for the Giants and Jets, this is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

 

 

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