by Derek Allen
Putting a franchise in the NFL’s second largest market makes sense as most any team that moves to LA will make money. Whether they keep their own name or just adopt the Los Angeles moniker, the twice-spurned City of Angels fans will flock to support their newest team, and revenue will be off the charts.
Potential suitors for the City of Industry, the actual location of the proposed new stadium 15 miles east of Los Angeles, include Buffalo, San Diego, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Oakland, Minnesota and San Francisco.
All these have stadium issues that need to be worked out. San Diego and Jacksonville seem the most logical and while Minnesota has a season ending expiring lease, there are special circumstances in play probably preventing their move.
Minnesota is a longshot mainly because their move leaves the NFL and the upper Midwest without a team from Seattle to Green Bay.
The first Minnesota general manager, Bert Rose, selected the Viking name in honor of the many people of Nordic heritage in Minnesota and the surrounding areas. Starting off as an expansion team in 1961 that played in Metropolitan Stadium, they’ve played in Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome nearly 30 years.
The Viking’s lease with the Metrodome ends officially in February 2012. The dome collapse gave Vikings owner Zygmunt Wilf’s another trump card to use in his quest for a new playing site. The team has repeatedly said it won’t sign an extension without a deal for a new stadium.
Supporters of a new stadium say that the 20 million in tax dollars alone generated by the Viking for the Minnesota economy is something they can’t afford to lose.
If Wilf does not have an agreement for a new stadium soon, he is free to pull up stakes and find a new home for his franchise, provided he gives sufficient notice. That notice must be filed no later than February 15 the year the move is scheduled to occur so right now frozen tundra fans, no worries.
When moving a franchise from a smaller market to Los Angeles, a transfer fee of hundreds of millions of dollars must be paid and shared with the other owners in exchange for access to the Southern California Market. I’m sure he’d rather pay that towards the proposed 900 million dollar stadium currently being discussed in St. Cloud.
If a deal isn’t made for a new stadium soon, the Boyz n the Hood may not be the only ones gettin’ some California Love.
Urban legend has it that the first owner of the Chargers, Barron Hilton, agreed on the name his general manager Frank Ready suggested when he bought his AFL franchise for Los Angeles. “I liked it because they were yelling charge and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games.” Another version is that Gerald Courtney of Hollywood submitting the name in a contest.
The Chargers’ lease with the Q expires in 2020 and can be bought out at any time between February 1 and April 30 by giving notice and a termination payment to the City. This clause has been in effect since 2004, the year the San Diego Padres baseball team left for Petco Field. While continuing to look for a new stadium site in San Diego County, Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani would not commit to staying in 2012.
A charter member of the AFL, the Los Angeles Chargers shared a stadium with the Los Angeles Rams in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961. Old San Diego Stadium was built nearly 45 years ago and while it’s had a couple of renovations and name changes, it is antiquated and needs to be replaced. It’s estimated that 17 million is lost every year in tax dollars at Qualcomm Stadium.
In an effort to sell out Qualcomm Stadium team officials announced that season ticket prices lowered for about 6500 seats in 2011.
The Chargers are trying to place a measure on the November 2012 ballot asking San Diego voters to authorize the construction and financing of a new stadium that’s estimated to come in between 800 million and 1 billion dollars.
San Diego finished with the best offense and defense in the NFL although they did have the third easiest schedule in the NFL in 2011, tied with Seattle. The Bolts won four of the five past AFC Division Championships and have dominated the AFC West the past decade. They made the playoffs four years in a row and were extremely unlucky not to make the playoffs last year.
If the city won’t help with a new stadium and they can buy out their lease, LA Sunshine might be welcoming a new team in town, sometime sooner rather than later. And to some folk, if and when that happens, It Was A Good Day.
The Jacksonville Jaguars name was selected in 1991 through a fan contest that included the choices Sharks, Panthers, and Stingrays. The franchise became a reality on Nov. 30, 1993, in the expansion that also included the 29th team, the Carolina Panthers. EverBank Stadium opened on the site of the old Gator Bowl Stadium in 1995 and is actually a new stadium as the entire lower bowl was demolished and replaced. Remnants of the Gator Bowl, originally constructed in 1949, were incorporated into the new structure.
The Jaguar lease with the city is until 2029 and according to the terms of that extended lease, the “exit clause” allowing the team to move would be activated if they have three straight losing years. And the books would have to be opened to prove that. Additionally, lost rent payments of 50 million dollars upwards would have to be negotiated and paid off as well.
The Jaquars became the first NFL expansion team to make the playoffs three times in its first four years of play while playing in the league’s smallest market. The 2010 census indicates Jacksonville’s market is now bigger than New Orleans and Buffalo. Because of low attendance and to help reduce blackouts, in 2005 nearly 10,000 of the stadium’s 73,000 total seats were covered with tarp to lower the stadium’s official capacity.
Attendance dropped to about 40,000 in 2009 with 7 home games blacked out. The Jacksonville Jaguars may have the most fair-weather fans in the game, only showing up when the team is winning with established stars playing for them.
The team and city worked together in 2010 trying to keep the franchise viable and attendance increased well over 36%, the highest increase in the league. Over 62,000 fans were attending the games and all of their home games were televised. After making great strides in ticket sales last year, the Jaguars’ season ticket renewals are going more slowly this year according to Jaguars majority owner Wayne Weaver, who also said that many see no reason to buy or renew season tickets until after a labor agreement is reached.
The law of diminishing returns may dictate to Weaver that he has no choice but to break the lease and pay the penalty costs to be the boss in a new city with a new stadium. If Jacksonville businesses and fans can not or will not support their team, not only are more black outs likely in 2011, but the Jaguar franchise may get a chance to find out if it’s true, that, It Never Rains In Southern California.