Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 18 News List

‘D-Day’ looms for football teams keen on Los Angeles

AFP, LOS ANGELES

The fate of three NFL teams hoping to relocate to Los Angeles is expected to be decided this week as team owners meet for a crucial vote, which could end the sport’s two-decade absence from the city.

Three teams — the St Louis Rams, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders — are all hoping to persuade the 32 owners of the NFL to vote in favor of their applications to move to Los Angeles.

The most popular sport in the US has been a notable absentee from the nation’s second-biggest media market since 1994, when the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Raiders played their last games in the city.

The Rams left for St Louis, Missouri, lured by the prospect of a new taxpayer-funded stadium, while the Raiders returned to their Bay Area home in northern California after a little more than a decade in Los Angeles.

However, the Rams, owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke, are bidding to return to Los Angeles, where they are planning a new 70,000-capacity stadium in Inglewood, with a reported price tag of more than US$2 billion.

The Chargers and the Raiders have tabled a proposal to cohabit in a new US$1.75 billion stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson.

How the NFL owners vote when they meet in Houston, Texas, yesterday and today remains shrouded in mystery.

However, a report issued to all 32 NFL teams on Saturday by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell increased a probability that one or more teams would be heading to Los Angeles in time for next season.

Goodell’s memo concluded that existing stadiums in California’s Oakland and San Diego, and in St Louis were “unsatisfactory and inadequate” for NFL standards, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Proposed solutions designed to keep the three teams in their current locations were also deemed not viable, the Los Angeles Times report said.

Goodell said that officials in each city had “ample opportunity, but did not develop their proposals sufficiently to ensure the retention of its NFL team.”

The NFL report also revealed that market research conducted on the league’s behalf had concluded that Los Angeles could support two teams — a finding that raises the prospect of one team facing disappointment.

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