So billionaire Edward P. Roski Jr. wants to again bring an NFL team to the greater Los Angeles area.
Reportedly, the plan is to build a 75,000-seat stadium at the intersection of the 57 and 60 Freeways, in and around Chino Hills (Ca.). It’ll cost $800 bazillion, be built on a property he already owns and be completed in time for exhibition games in 2011.
Sounds awfully convenient, I know, but this could actually be the plan that entices the NFL into returning a pro football ghost town. Roski Jr., worth approx. 2.3 billion, is a realty and development magnate and has worked with the NFL before. (He was involved with the previous group whose bid was REJECTED in favor of the one which eventually became the Houston Texans.)
But Roski Jr., a part owner of the Lakers and Kings, and his realty group say they’ve taken away any location/stadium uncertainty the NFL may have about returning to the L.A. market.
So there might be a stadium coming to a neighborhood close to you. But who is going to play in it? And who is going to come watch?
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that expansion “is off the table” right now, likely meaning the only way a team could enter L.A. is through relocation. But Goodell is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the owners; despite all the disciplinary action he’s had to administer lately, he’s a smarmy businessman and would likely take full credit for helping instigate a return to the nation’s second-largest market if it means helping further bloat the NFL’s pocketbook.
As for athletic supporters… when the Raiders and Rams left 1995, their fans left with them, if not physically then emotionally. Sure, there’s likely a segment of the population that would be open to supporting an expansion/relocated team (women, children) but it would be hard to sway the real NFL demographic, males 18-65. No true NFL fan would ever change their allegiance just because a new team is now only 20 minutes away. See a game or two, sure. Maybe even buy a t-shirt. But root for them to DEFEAT their team, never.
Which means that unless Roski Jr. has a family numbering thousands of ticket-holders and can fill the stadium with his in-laws; or a plan to field a competitive squad worth watching, the new team will be met with the same apathy as that which drove L.A.’s previous franchises into exile. ‘Cause you know RaiderFan isn’t going to change (Orelay!). And RamFan, if such a thing still exists in California, is behind a closet door somewhere, still hiding from RaiderFan.