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L.A. could be giving up on getting an NFL team


As Bills fans fret about a potential relocation of the franchise to Southern California, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News has good tidings.

In a lengthy and excellent look at the lack of NFL football in Los Angeles, Graham paints a picture of pessimism that the league will return to L.A. any time soon.

Nearly 20 years after the Rams and Raiders vamoosed to St. Louis and Oakland, respectively, the NFL is no closer to coming back, and proponents of the NFL in L.A. could be giving up.

“I’ve finally, personally come to a conclusion,” Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks told Graham. “I have to resign myself to the fact the NFL is not coming. . . . After you put 10 years into something with nothing in return. . . . If this was a marriage, you’d be divorced.”

Even if a viable stadium solution existed, the Bills could the wrong team to move, for a variety of reasons. As Graham points out, the Bills are the only NFL team based in New York. (The Jets and Giants play in New Jersey.) Buffalo also has considerable political clout; Graham notes that veteran Senator Chuck Schumer could decide to attack the NFL’s critical broadcast antitrust exemption, if the NFL lets the Bills leave Buffalo.

“The NFL doesn’t want to risk upsetting the political structure,” Parks told Graham. “The league is facing critical issues. They don’t want to litigate these things.

“In many ways, they’re like the old Mafia. They just want to make money and don’t want to do anything that will disrupt that.”

And so it appears that nothing will disrupt the ongoing use of L.A. as leverage for the construction of stadiums elsewhere with public money.

“I just think we’ve been used as a pawn,” Parks told Graham. “I just don’t know if we were ever seriously considered.”

Serious consideration remains possible, but a lot needs to happen.

“It’s a Rubik’s Cube,” Rose Bowl G.M. Darryl Dunn told Graham. “You need all sides. It is complicated, and it is difficult. It still can be done, though. The potential has always been there. But L.A. will not do this at any price. It’s going to have to make sense.”

What makes sense would be a relocation to a place like the Rose Bowl while a new stadium is built. But the NFL has shown no serious interest in the available options for a state-of-the-art venue. Ed Roski has had a shovel-ready location in the City of Industry for several years. AEG had hoped to build a downtown stadium near Staples Center, but that has gone nowhere.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased land near Hollywood Park, at a time when his team has become a year-to-year tenant in L.A. The ideal location could be at Chavez Ravine, but former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s lingering interests in the land could be a major impediment.

Moving forward, optimistic comments and reports periodically will bubble up, presumably to retain L.A.'s viability as leverage for teams in other cities. But nothing has happened for 20 years, and it would be foolish to assume that anything will happen for 20 more.

Ultimately, that’s great news for folks in Buffalo. Even if someone wants to overpay the Wilson family for the ability to buy the team and ship it to Los Angeles, that possibility seems to be remote, to say the least.