Now more than ever, NFL needs Los Angeles

PHOENIX – On the same day more than 15,000 signed petitions were delivered to Carson’s city hall in support of a stadium for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders and fancy renditions of an extravagant stadium in Inglewood for the St. Louis Rams were released, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stood at a podium in Phoenix and said his league is not focused on Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
Well isn’t that just the darnedest thing you’ve ever heard.
Less then 400 miles from where Goodell stood, two Los Angeles stadium proposals were chugging along to full entitlement and being shovel ready.
Meanwhile, Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis stood considerably behind in the process, their stadium plans still all talk at the moment. They will remain so until financing is in place, and with all three markets facing unique challenges relative to paying for new venues, uncertainty and anxiety remain.
That represents an ironic twist in the 20-year-long battle to bring football back to Los Angeles.
For two decades L.A. struggled to figure out the complex problem of where to put a stadium, how to pay for it and who would play in it.
And for years the NFL beautifully played our dysfunction to it’s benefit, manipulating the threat of an open L.A. market to get new palaces built in Minnesota and Seattle among others.
Lo and behold, Los Angeles has finally connected all the necessary dots.
And while St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego scramble to come up with plans that make financial sense for their teams, it’s more apparent than ever the interesting role reversal that’s taken place.
Who needs who now, NFL?
So a word of warning to the commissioner. If you really aren’t focused on L.A. for 2016, you might want to start.
We’re about to save the day.
The threat of us will probably get another stadium built, maybe in St. Louis where strong state leadership and a more willing appetite to spend taxpayer money might keep pro football along the Mississippi River.
But it seems hopeless that all three cities will get deals done. The odds are stacked too high, the financing too complex and the public will too weak to hit the trifecta.
Someone – perhaps some two – will have to seek refuge in Los Angeles.
The power shift isn’t lost on Goodell, no matter how much water he threw on the thought of pro football back in Los Angeles by 2016.
It will be. And he knows it.
His focus now, and he admitted it, is the importance of getting it right in L.A.
“If we go back to the Los Angeles market, we want to succeed for the long-term,” Goodell said.
Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.
See, it’s no longer a question of if the NFL returns. And it’s growing increasingly clear it’s not a question of when, either.
It’s about the right teams and the right owners creating the best chance of not only returning to L.A., but seizing it, dominating it, owning it and flourishing in it.
That is the challenge Goodell and the owners he works for are now tasked with, and it’s not as easy as saying the Rams stay in St. Louis if Missouri steps up with a stadium plan and the Chargers and Raiders moving to Carson if San Diego and Oakland don’t.
The Rams, with all their history in Los Angeles, a proud fan base still intact, multi-billionaire owner Stan Kroenke and a brilliantly conceived stadium located in an easily accessible city makes too much sense to ignore.
Even with an existing stadium plan on the table in St. Louis and if San Diego and Oakland can’t come up with plans for new homes for the Chargers and Rams.
That would be an easy fix.
Demand a partnership between Kroenke and Chargers owner Dean Spanos in which they share the stadium in Inglewood.
Kroenke wants to be in L.A., no matter what it seems. Grant him his wish, but do it on your terms.
Move the Raiders to St. Louis, where a publicly financed stadium awaits the Silver and Black.
That might not make everyone completely happy. But it sure beats playing in revenue challenged old stadiums or in the case of St. Louis, not having pro football at all.
It’s a workable deal. More importantly, it sets Los Angles up beautifully for long-term success.
The NFL has manipulated L.A. to it’s benefit for years. Now it’s time Goodell and the owners manipulate the situation to appease us.
It’s the least they can do, seeing how badly then need us now.