L.A. confidential

Posted Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:12 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Sixteen years and counting.

It's hard to believe it has been that long since the city of Los Angeles was abandoned by both the Rams and Raiders, leaving the country's second-largest media market  without a professional football franchise.
For a number of seemingly compelling reasons, one would think there would be a sense of urgency to bring an NFL team back to the entertainment capital of the world as expeditiously as possible.

Think again.

"There is no urgency for any kind of a deal that I have detected, and I have spoken with all the powers-that-be," Chicago-based sports business consultant Marc Ganis told Pro Football Weekly.

"What I have picked up on unequivocally and with certainty is that, if the right deal presented itself, the NFL would be interested. But they're not going to make any deal just to get a team in L.A."

The league's television contracts, for one thing, clearly influence the big picture.

A regular attendee at league meetings, Ganis believes the recent 85 percent increase in "Monday Night Football" revenue demonstrates that the NFL does not need a franchise in Los Angeles to get meaningful increases in broadcast revenues.

"And, in many ways, as one of the networks has said, there are actually benefits to not having a team in L.A., with the possibility of that team not being successful," Ganis said.

"You can't do (television) doubleheaders when the team is at home. Right now, the L.A. market gets the best games in the country with a doubleheader every week. If there were a team in L.A., the TV audience would not get the TV games with the highest interest. But it gets dramatically worse if the L.A. team might not sell out.

"Then it becomes a huge albatross."

Complicating matters is the uncertainty of exactly where a franchise would play its games in Los Angeles, with dueling entities currently duking it out in a stadium battle  without a clear-cut favorite by any means.
"We think there are two opportunities in Los Angeles, and we are going to pursue both of them aggressively," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said recently.

In one corner, there is the Anschutz Entertainment Group stadium plan spearheaded by billionaire entrepreneur Philip Anschutz, a heavyweight investor in a host of professional sports endeavors, including the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.

Anschutz has his sights set on landing a team in Farmers Field, a proposed 70,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in downtown L.A. that would be attached to the Los Angeles Convention Center and adjacent to the AEG-owned-and-operated Staples Center at a projected cost of $1.2 billion.

In the other corner is a stadium plan endorsed by fellow billionaire Ed Roski, a friend and business partner of Anschutz who is intent on building a 75,000-seat open-air stadium on a 600-acre site in the City of Industry, 20 miles from downtown L.A.

Anschutz is widely believed to have the upper hand, courtesy of an eye-popping $700 million naming-rights agreement over 30 years with Farmers Insurance and a request for a one-third minority interest in whatever team eventually might land in L.A. — the same percentage as his ownership in the Lakers.

But the Roski plan is gaining momentum because of the ability to start construction more quickly on his proposed site, as well as his  revised commitment to buy a minority ownership share at fair-market value after initially requesting a minority share of a team free of charge.

Roski also is projecting a lower cost for his stadium plan of $800 million — a figure significantly less than the expenditures of the two new NFL stadiums that have opened for business since 2008 — Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas ($1.3 billion) and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. ($1.6 billion).

"There are interesting aspects to the downtown plan, but the Roski plan is far more traditional," Ganis said. "And who's to say they are the only two plans that materialize?"

Finally, there's the biggest piece to the puzzle — which team, if any, is in the most favorable position to make a move?

Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of potential options.

To read the rest of this story, order a copy of the current issue of Pro Football Weekly. In the latest edition of PFW, you will also find out about Fred Jackson's journey to the NFL. It was hardly easy, but he's now playing a starring role for the potent Bills offense. Also, don't miss fantasy football expert William Del Pilar's advice on how to study the fantasy schedule when weighing trade offers.