Until recently the talk of pro football returning to Los Angeles had been as premature as talk of the Miami Heat becoming a dynasty. For years we’ve heard all of the pipedream plans of renovating the Coliseum, improving the Rose Bowl, completing construction in a certain hole in the ground in Irwindale, blah, blah, blah.
Then along came L.A. sports heavyweights AEG with a plan to build a new stadium downtown. Next came news that they had funding in place. Then along comes a sponsor for the proposed stadium.
Suddenly the possibility of the NFL returning to Los Angeles became a reality. All that remained was for a team to relocate to the City of Angels.
Never one to sit back and wait for his ship to come in, AEG’s billionaire owner Philip Anshutz has plans on acquiring a majority share of an NFL franchise. AEG president Tim Leiweke told the OC Register that Anshutz has already had discussions with the Minnesota Vikings but that is just one of five teams they’re eyeing to fill the Los Angeles market.
“St. Louis, Jacksonville, not extensively, certainly Oakland, San Diego, Minnesota are still in the mix.”
It’s not a surprise that the Raiders would be among the teams on the short list. What would be a shocker is if Al Davis would actually consider selling off majority ownership of his beloved franchise. That alone makes any possible Raider reunion in L.A. a longshot.
Davis doesn’t seem like the type who would sell his franchise to an owner who has no plans on seeing the Raiders remain in Oakland. Al could move his team back to L.A. just fine with no help from AEG. Of course what is true in Oakland remains true in Los Angeles – this team needs a new stadium.
Let’s just pretend that Mr. Davis actually has plans on moving the Raiders back to L.A. without selling any of the team off to AEG. That would mean we’d see a pretty ugly battle being waged between Davis and AEG for the right to use the proposed downtown arena.
If Davis can’t figure out a more suitable stadium situation in the East Bay then a return to L.A. remains a strong possibility. As recently as last year Davis said all it would take to get the Raiders back to SoCal would be to build a new stadium. However if its AEG that builds said stadium it doesn’t seem probable that the mega-sports and entertainment conglomerate would be willing to let Al use their stadium without getting a controlling piece of the franchise.
So there you have it. Right now there’s no real reason for panic in the Bay just as there is no real reason to celebrate in Los Angeles. Still, you can’t help but feel this is a story that could really gain legs should this lockout cost the Raiders a few home dates. If Al is unable to secure funding for a new stadium in the Bay and his franchise continues to struggle to make ends meet you’d better believe he’d consider making a Raiders reunion in L.A. happen.