Okay! After a week of former NFL players and former movie executives and more former NFL players speculating wildly on whether the Oakland Raiders will or should move to Los Angeles, we finally have some actual sorta-kinda-almost news about a possible L.A. relocation. Jeanne Zelasko of KFWB-AM in Los Angeles says that AEG, which has been trying for years to pretend that it’s building an NFL stadium in L.A., is now looking to hire PR specialists to handle a team moving there next year, according to people who’ve interviewed for the job:
Over the last week to ten days, AEG has been interviewing people for a public relations gig to handle an NFL team coming to L.A. And these conversations they’re having with people, these interviews they’re having with people, they’re talking about a startup situation February 15th of 2015.
Okay, so this still isn’t much of news: Basically, a company that’s already stated its interest in bringing a team to L.A. may or may not be looking to hire someone to oversee media around getting a team next spring, if one materializes during the annual NFL relocation-announcement window. But it’s another small data point toward the argument that some teams, likely the Raiders and St. Louis Rams, may be considering at least ramping up a threat to move in February, whether or not they go through with it.Zelasko later added (wait past her long discussion of naps) that what’s going on behind the scenes is that the NFL is now at least actively looking to hear more from AEG on how their stadium plan would work, which is more than they’ve done in the past. She also said that one “stumbling block” could be that the L.A. Coliseum and Rose Bowl have balked at hosting the Raiders temporarily, because the image of a typical Raiders fan is “a thug – not a clean-cut mom and dad, two kids, and a poodle,” and so the league might want to force Mark Davis to sell the team before okaying a move to L.A. Leaving aside the racial subtext here: a poodle? There are NFL teams whose fans are poodles? Also, is there something about Mark Davis that means he doesn’t know how to market football to poodles? Is “poodles” going to be the new code word for white folk who aren’t threatening, at least to other white folk? Can it be, please?
And here’s superduperbrief:
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday granted developer Anschutz Entertainment Group another six months to find a team for its proposed downtown NFL stadium, while also giving it more influence over any backup plan for the site.
On a 12-0 vote, the council agreed to make AEG a participant in what city officials have been calling Plan B — the effort to figure out how to upgrade the Los Angeles Convention Center if no stadium is built.
Why? Because an AEG exec said they’d been engaged in a “renewed dialogue” with the NFL on a franchise, so that’s apparently worth another six months of rope. And dealing in AEG on what to do with the site if there’s no stadium, so that the next six months isn’t entirely spent twiddling everyone’s thumbs. Though really, they could have spent the time RFPing out the site in case the stadium doesn’t happen, but then AEG would keep sitting outside pressing its face against the window and making sad puppy eyes, so nah.
There’s more information out today (okay, really late yesterday) on the artist-soon-to-be-formerly-known-as–Chivas-USA: The new owners will include the billionaire Malaysian owner of Cardiff City, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Golden State Warriors, the owner of Vietnam’s first McDonald’s, and an ESPN basketball analyst; they’ll pay more than $100 million for an expansion team in L.A. to start play in 2017 or so, replacing Chivas, which will be dissolved immediately; and they’re looking at sites for a new soccer stadium, including, according to unnamed sources, ones “in downtown L.A. (‘not far from the Staples Center’) and near the Hollywood Park racetrack.”
One thing I can tell you right now: If the new owners plan on having a new stadium in place before they start play, no way in hell they take the pitch in 2017: It’d take about two years just to build a stadium, and they still have to decide on a site and a way to pay for it, let alone waiting out California’s environmental impact review process. They do have other options if they want to start play sooner — sharing digs with the Galaxy temporarily while a new stadium gets built, for example — but if they want to wait until stadium plans are finalized before actually launching the franchise, don’t be surprised to see that date slip. After all, David Beckham starting a team in Miami in 2016 was once considered a sure thing, and now it’s on the backest of burners.
Unless Los Angeles is considered such an awesome two-team market that nobody cares where the team plays, as happened with another large city not that long ago. But a new stadium by 2017? That ain’t happening.