Roger Goodell (Matthew Emmons/US Presswire)
Vikings fans don’t have to worry about their team moving to Los Angeles anymore, but the NFL is ramping up the intensity on getting a franchise back into the nation’s second-largest media market.
It might be a really good thing that the Minnesota State Legislature got a Vikings stadium deal done when it did. If not, the Vikings may well have been heading west, because, in the view of the league, Los Angeles is close to being ready to get back into the NFL business.
A memo sent to all 32 NFL teams was leaked to the Los Angeles Times and the clear indication is that L.A. is coming back as a host city and that plans are in the makings to get a franchise there sooner than later.
“Although substantial uncertainties remain, stadium development in Los Angeles has advanced to the point where the prospects for a new facility are better than they have been in many years,” Goodell said in the memo, according to the Times.
The Los Angeles area has been without an NFL team since 1994 after having two franchises. The Raiders moved back to Oakland after not getting a stadium deal and the Rams moved to St. Louis for the same reason. The sentiment in L.A. is that a team is coming and it may be coming soon.
Teams mentioned in the Times story include San Diego, Oakland, St. Louis and Jacksonville, although Jaguars owner Shad Khan has recently stated he is committed to keeping his franchise in Jacksonville. Had the Vikings not got an 11th-hour stadium deal done, you could bet they would be at the top of that list.
The memo appears to set the stage that a stadium in Los Angeles had best be prepared to potentially host not only one team, but rather host two. 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.”
Not only did the memo state that two franchises could move to Los Angeles – at the current time, there is no talk about expanding the league from its current 32 teams – but the memo seemed to indicate that, to help the process along, the league might provide some of the funding money needed to complete the L.A. stadium option. That would be an interesting development that could greatly speed up the process, because there are few construction delays in Los Angeles and, once the process starts, it can go year-round until the project is completely finished.
What made the Vikings’ near-miss so urgent is that Goodell hinted that a relocated team could play in Los Angeles as early as 2013, using either the Los Angeles Coliseum or Rose Bowl as an alternate playing site while the new stadium would be completed.
Given the tone of immediacy, one has to wonder whether Goodell’s visit to Minnesota to meet with legislative leaders was, in part, to let it be known that the Vikings were on top of the list for relocation. His visit coincided with the public reversal of the stadium bill from being dead or, at best, a long shot to almost a forgone conclusion by the time it actually came to a vote.
It will be interesting to watch how this matter proceeds. For Vikings fans who could finally breathe a sigh of relief last month, it will be especially interesting because it won’t involve their team.
A Vikings fan with a creative flair may find himself or herself in New York for the 2012 regular-season opener, thanks to the NFL’s inaugural NFL Fan Flag Challenge. Thirty-two fans, one representing each team, will provide the design concept for their favorite team’s flag. The winning design will incorporate the team’s city, community traditions or its fans. One can only imagine the Packers’ design if it feeds into stereotypes.
The Vikings announced that the Vikings Entertainment Network will use the Vikings radio broadcast team of Paul Allen and Pete Bercich simulcasted as the television broadcast team during the preseason. Former Viking Ben Leber has been hired to conduct sideline interviews during the preseason games and Leber will also have a role doing video segments on the team’s website and having regular appearances on the Vikings pregame show “Vikings GamePlan.”
The Vikings may have a mild interest in the 2012 NFL supplemental draft. Teams submit bids on players, offering a draft pick they would be willing to part with to get that player with the highest pick getting that players. The supplemental draft has produced some big names, including legendary Browns QB Bernie Kosar.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.