The National Football League finally wants to bring a franchise back to Los Angeles, but the San Diego Chargers are fighting the move by citing the “economic harm” it will cause them.
On Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that a new NFL team is “highly likely” to be awarded to his city perhaps even in the next year.
Mayor Garcetti made the statement during an “Ask The Mayor” radio segment on KNX radio. He said that he thinks the NFL is “finally interested” in expanding to L.A.
Los Angeles hasn’t had an NFL team since the mid-1990s when the Raiders and then the Rams left the city.
The City Council is poised to extend a contract with the Anschutz Entertainment Group giving them until next April to find an NFL team to bring to the city. The search has been under way for two yeas already.
But as the Mayor’s news broke about a possible NFL team in L.A., the San Diego Chargers insisted that such a move would hurt them financially.
Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers president Dean Spanos, told ESPN that if a team goes to L.A. it would be “economically harmful” for the Chargers. “Allowing another team to move into those markets would be economically harmful to the Chargers, to say the least,” Fabiani said. “Especially if it’s a team that has voluntarily vacated that market in the past, such as the Rams or the Raiders–that would be particularly objectionable to the Chargers.”
But the Chargers “voluntarily vacated” Los Angeles after their first AFL season. The 55-season-old franchise works on a new stadium deal in San Diego, and the team has also been noted as a candidate for a return to L.A. themselves. They may attempt to use the NFL’s likely return to Los Angeles to squeeze financial concessions from the league. The Baltimore Orioles received money from Major League Baseball when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., but baseball teams rely heavily on local television money. The Chargers won’t see television revenues reduced in any sizable way with a franchise in Los Angeles.
The Rams and the Raiders are at a point in their stadium lease contracts where they could move to L.A., as well.
Still, Commissioner Roger Goodell sought to tamp the rumors down a bit, saying, “There are reasons for optimism, but that can change quickly also.”
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