For an NFL franchise, its stadium is a major component of its business plan. For teams and team owners, their stadium can directly influence the bottom line –with revenues from luxury suites amounting to millions of dollars for the franchise. The bigger the city the team is located, the more wealth they can anticipate. It’s a bargaining dream come true for the NFL that Los Angeles has two proposals to choose from. I’m referring to Farmers Field proposed by AEG and Grand Crossing proposed by Majestic Realty.
Just before Christmas in 2010, the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings, collapsed under the weight of snow. Almost immediately the Vikings threatened to move to Los Angeles. As a result, Minnesota lawmakers committed the state to paying for $348 million, or 35% of a new $975 million stadium project for the Vikings (Lohn 2012). According to Minnesota Management and Budget’s latest forecast, Minnesota is expecting a $1.1 billion budget shortfall in the coming biennium (Richert 2012). But, keeping the NFL was priority.
A similar situation occurred with the San Diego Chargers. They also bargained for a new stadium, otherwise threatening to move to Los Angeles. The Chargers now have two proposals at their discretion to build a new facility in San Diego: “a proposed waterfront stadium has an estimated cost of over $2.5 billion” and “another proposal for a downtown stadium, at a total of about $1.1 billion” (Walton 2012).
In early 2012, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that he did not wish to relocate any teams in the league. He said if an expansion were considered, it would have to be by two teams rather than one, to make it an even 34-team league (Katzowitz 2012). In June, Goodell announced guidelines for how teams may apply to move to Los Angeles: “Any franchise interested in relocating there for the 2013 season must apply between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of that year, and prove it has exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location” (Wilner 2012).
So what will it cost Los Angeles taxpayers to build a new stadium to a relocate an existing team or gain a new team? What does it cost a city to lose a team? And, are the efforts worth the costs? The NFL’s history illuminates the fact that even if Los Angeles were to attract a team, there are no assurances that a franchise would stick around.