With the Minnesota Vikings securing a new stadium deal, scratch the Vikings off the list of possible teams which could relocate to the new proposed stadium in Los Angeles. Minnesota lawmakers reached a deal worth a reported $975 million dollars to build a new facility and the move keeps the Vikings in Minnesota for the next 30 years. The list of possible teams is growing shorter and that is actually good news for teams which are wanting to strike a new stadium deal in their current home town.
The Vikings were widely speculated to being very close to making a move. The franchise was playing without a lease and could have made a move as early as at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Los Angeles now has to look elsewhere for a new team. But which team?
Buffalo Bills- The Bills have spent the past few seasons playing one of their “home” games in Toronto and ranks 24th in the league in attendance numbers. The Western part of New York is suffering economically. That being said, owner Ralph Wilson has vowed not to move the Bills.
Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jaguars have long been the team rumored to be the subject of relocation. The franchise ranks 25th in attendance and is currently under new ownership. Owner Shahid Khan has stated that he wants to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville and has been very active in the community since purchasing the club. However, a move to Los Angeles would dramatically increase the value of his team and place the team in the country’s second-largest television market. If Khan decides to relocated the team, he has an agreement with former owner, Wayne Weaver, to donate $25 million dollars to the charity of Weaver’s choice.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tampa currently ranks 30th in the league in attendance and the team is struggling to sell tickets. A significant drop in success on the field coupled with a reeling local economy are contributing factors. The Buccaneers ownership has long been rumored to experiencing financial issues but the team spent freely in free agency this season. Raymond James Stadium is one of the premiere venues in the NFL and the Tampa area has hosted the Super Bowl four times. Tampa should be considered a longshot.
St. Louis Rams- The Rams rank 31st in the league in attendance and have been in the thick of the relocation debate. According to the team’s current lease at the Edward Jones Dome, the stadium authority has until 2015 in order to provide what is described as, a first-tier facility. In recent days, it has been reported that the Rams are wanting to have a retractable roof installed on the dome. Upgrades to the current facility will run well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. How much public support will there be to keep the Rams in town after posting a 15-65 overall record in the past five seasons? The Rams have a history in Los Angeles.
Oakland Raiders- The Raiders are currently ranked 29th in attendance. As with the Rams, Oakland has a history in Los Angeles as well. The Raiders are actively seeking a new stadium deal but there is a very real possibility of the team sharing a new stadium with the San Francisco 49ers at a new facility being built in Santa Clara, California. Just as the New York Jets and Giants share a stadium, this would allow the Raiders to remain in the area and reduce operating costs. Oakland is also considering a new stadium on the current Coliseum site with the addition of a “sports village”.
San Diego Chargers- San Diego ranks highest in attendance among all the possible teams being discussed, ranking 19th with an average of 65,392 fans per game. The Chargers could have opted out of their current contract at Qualcomm Stadium, a facility which opened their doors in 1967, but decided to remain in San Diego for 2012 while determining if the team will receive a new venue. As with the Rams, the fanbase is growing impatient with the lack of success the team has had as the Chargers have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in the last two seasons. The Chargers started their football life in Los Angeles and if a new stadium deal cannot be reached, I believe the franchise has a good possibility of returning to the City of Angels.
Filed under: NFL