SBD/July 2, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Roger Goodell Gives NFL Teams Guidelines, Ground Rules For Potential Relocation To L.A.

Goodell's memo outlines guidelines for teams looking to relocate to L.A. market
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Friday sent a memo to all 32 teams stating it is "the league -- and not an individual team -- that will control the relocation process" to L.A., according to sources cited by Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. In making that point, Goodell "put in writing what was discussed by owners at a May meeting in Atlanta and established rules for moving back to a market that has been without an NFL franchise" since the Raiders and Rams left L.A. after the '94 season. Although the memo refers specifically to the '13 season, it "does not necessarily mean the league is ready to reenter the market immediately." However, it does "underscore how seriously the NFL is considering the current opportunities." In order to be considered for relocation, Goodell wrote that a team "must submit its application to do so between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15." What the league "doesn't want is a team making the unilateral decision to relocate to L.A. intending to play in the Rose Bowl or Coliseum for a few years with the hope of moving over to a new venue once a stadium solution is found." The guidelines are "partly intended to discourage squatting on the market." Raising the "long-held league belief that L.A. is a two-team market," Goodell wrote, "Consistent with our long-standing view, we have made it clear that any stadium seeking investment support from the 32 member clubs should preserve a viable option of being able to host two teams at appropriate times and on appropriate terms." Goodell specifically "made reference to the AEG proposal in downtown L.A. and Ed Roski's concept in the City of Industry." He wrote, "We are also exploring the availability of other sites in the Los Angeles area." Goodell added that any application to relocate "will be acted on as soon as possible, but that it's unlikely any vote would be taken before the annual meeting" in March '13 (L.A. TIMES, 6/30). The AP's Barry Wilner noted Goodell in the memo mentioned "a Hall of Fame, studios for NFL Network and youth football facilities accompanying a stadium." A team seeking to move to L.A. "must have a viable interim stadium plan while the new building is being built; a marketing plan with respect to personal seat licenses, premium seating, and naming rights; and must give certain financial guarantees to the league" (AP, 6/29).

WAKE-UP CALL? In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote while it might have appeared that Goodell "simply sent a private memo to the NFL's 32 franchise owners Friday, in reality he broadcast a clarion call to every nervous American city that has an NFL franchise playing in an outdated stadium, haggling over a bad lease or fretting over sagging local attendance." L.A. is "officially in play as a fabulous alternative to every disgruntled pro football owner." After years of considering L.A. "an empty threat because of stadium issues, the Rams landlords now have something to worry about." Burwell: "This is the doomsday scenario I have been worrying about for years. Get the deal done before Los Angeles becomes a legitimate alternative." The memo was a "warning to cities such as St. Louis, San Diego, Jacksonville, Oakland and Buffalo that the clock is ticking on negotiations with their prospective teams" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/1).

WILLING TO LISTEN
: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted Guggenheim Baseball Management, the Dodgers' new ownership group, has "not spoken to the NFL about building a stadium next to Dodger Stadium" and has "no immediate plans to do so." However, they are "open to the possibility." Dodgers Chair Mark Walter said, "We haven’t talked about it or thought about it a lot. It’s not on our radar screen. I mean, we’re trying to fix this place and get our team running and make this the best experience possible for our fans. If that came on our radar screen, we’d deal with it. But it’s not right now. The NFL has not approached us with anything" (LATIMES.com, 6/30).
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