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February 03, 2012

Goodell promises 34 NFL teams if L.A. gets one? Not so much

This was a weird news item to wake up to this morning:

Commissioner Roger Goodell says if the NFL puts a team in Los Angeles, it is probable the league would expand to 34 franchises.
Appearing Thursday night on "Costas Live" on NBC Sports Network, Goodell said the league "doesn't want to move any of our teams."

Why, exactly, would Goodell risk blowing the one thing the NFL is getting out of the two as-yet-unworkable L.A. stadium plans — leverage for team owners to threaten their home cities with a move to L.A. — by promising that any teams that move would be replaced with expansion franchises? True, it's not like Vikings fans will be entirely placated by "Don't worry, there'll be two expansion teams, and we'll have first dibs on one," but still it's an odd thing to volunteer on national TV.

Except that's not quite what Goodell said. To the videotape:

Key section:

Costas: Thirty-two seems like the right number for any number of reasons, the right number of teams. So if L.A. is going to get a team, it's going to be a team that will move. ... How likely is it that L.A. has a franchise sometime soon?
Goodell: It's hard, Bob. There's several issues. First you have to have the stadium. We're developing the stadium--
Costas: The city council there has approved the funds recently, right?
Goodell: There's two plans that are developing in Los Angeles, both of which we think have a great deal of potential. But really, we want to keep our teams where they are. That's the dilemma. Because not only do we have to get the stadium in L.A., then we have to find out how to get the team.
Costas: And 33 is unwieldy?
Goodell: You probably wouldn't go to 33. You'd probably go to 34. I would think you would have to do it by two.

In other words, the interpretation here could just as easily have been "Goodell says probably no expansion team for L.A., because you can't add just one." But that doesn't fit as well in the headlines.


As far as the NFL in Minnesota goes if somehow the "Wilfs" leave town (unlikely) an expansion team or JAX or OAK would find their way to the twin cities and become the Vikings within 10 years.

It is just too important a market to abandon. It is a better TV market than Denver, it is basically 15th or so.

I suppose the NFL could try to turn it into the new LA (always threaten to move teams there), but it isn't really high profile enough for that.

Posted by Joshua Northey on February 3, 2012 10:34 AM

OHHHH Canada !

Prepare for the 'TORONTO NFL' talks to heat up now.

Posted by inaslump on February 3, 2012 12:24 PM

I assume the Bills have "dibs" on Toronto.

Considering their apparent infatuation with a certain city, if they ever decided to put an expansion team in LA, I think the 34th team would go to...London.

Not that it'll work out that way. Somebody will move to LA and they'll stick with 32.

Posted by Keith on February 3, 2012 12:46 PM

Have all the sports commissioners lost their minds?! Do they even live on the same planet as us, or are they too distracted with the rustling sound of money in their ears 24/7?

Yeah let's water down an already watered-down league with 2 more teams - on top of the 7 or so teams with stadium issues - which would screw up the divisions (but small divisions are a fallacy in themselves, mind you). Goodell is so delusional it's ridiculous. One almost roots that L.A. never gets a team again or his Super Bowl tanks.

Posted by Mark on February 3, 2012 01:32 PM

The nfl will only expand if it goes international. LA will get a current California team, chargers or raiders. I wouldn't be shocked if LA gets two teams, chargers, raiders and another move.

Posted by runner on February 3, 2012 01:33 PM

The league might have to do expansion if none of the current owners are tempted enough to move to LA on AEG's terms - which it seems is the case.

If things turned out this way, I'd expect the LA threats to continue because techincally there is room for 2 teams in LA. If anything, the LA boogieman threat to an at risk for relocation team would be easier to carry though in this scenario with an existing AEG stadium already up and running. With how many snags NFL stadium plans in LA have hit, the Rose Bowl bluff is easier for other cities to call than it was 10+ years ago.

Posted by Sasha on February 3, 2012 02:50 PM

Seems strange to say "it's [Minnesota's market] a better TV market than Denver." While true in the sense that it's larger, I think I'm missing your point. A.) Why does it matter that it's larger than Denver (17th)?, and B.) "better" is highly debatable, since I imagine more Denver viewers tune in to NFL games. If you've ever been to Colorado, you'd realize that the only sports team they even remotely care about is the Broncos. As someone who's lived in both places, I didn't quite get that vibe in Minnesota, since there are so many hockey die-hards who don't care about the Vikes near as much.

Posted by Anon on February 3, 2012 03:08 PM

Really for our national "economic activity" we need many, many more than 34 NFL teams.

Stadium building and football is an unmitigated good. There's something wrong with you if you don't like football.

Posted by santa clara jay on February 3, 2012 04:42 PM


Apart from the $80m or so Ralph Wilson bagged for the 8 games, the Bills in Toronto series has been all about extending the Buffalo market to include Toronto.

I'm not sure there will ever be an NFL franchise in the big smoke, but if there is you can count on Mr. Wilson (or his heirs/successors) receiving a very handsome payment for 'allowing' it.

Posted by John Bladen on February 3, 2012 10:54 PM

The fact that Goodell is seriously considering London as an expansion location is proof of how poorly run these sports leagues are. I went onto Sky Sports UK to see how easy it was to find NFL and NBA scores. It was buried under a miscellaneous section titled "More+", which is pretty much where American sports media would place Rugby, soccer and MMA results. Even the scores that you would find were absolutely pathetic and half-heartedly done.

The government of the US could stop this tomorrow by dictating to the professional sports leagues that NO taxpayer money is to be used on building arenas or stadiums for professional teams! That's the way it should be. If a team cannot afford a new stadium, perhaps it needs to look at its business model and see what is wrong.

Posted by Roger C. on February 4, 2012 12:35 AM

Memo to Roger C.

The sports leagues aren't poorly run, it is the different tastes in sports that affect the different countries. I don't know why he is pushing London games, but it doesn't mean that the league is poorly run. If the NFL were poorly run, there is no way on earth that the Super Bowl would become the "holiday" that it is currently.

As for the NBA, basketball is about as popular in the UK as a root canal. However the NBA has been on an international expansion and it shows through the "rock star" following that the NBA has received in places like China. Maybe the NBA ought to delay its 2012-13 season until February 2013 and then play a full slate of five to six months worth of basketball so players are free to play the international circuit in the fall and winter.

Also the owners get their stadium deals because they are con men and don't really need the money. If they need the money, open up the books and prove it. This is what the site is all about.

Posted by Jessy S. on February 4, 2012 04:25 AM

@Jessy S., I beg to differ. The sports leagues are poorly run. You do seem to believe that every single corporate entity is run perfectly, like many Americans do. They are not. Most of these sports leagues are living off of their old glory days. The NFL had its glory days back in the 70's and 80's, and the NBA had theirs back in the 80's and 90's. They are in total cash-in mode, expanding to as many cities as they can, doing scant research on most of these markets, overpaying players and charging fans ridiculous amounts of money. Look at the NHL and how disastrous many of their southern franchises have been. What were they thinking? The funny thing is, most of these leagues have ignored viable cities for years, while going to other larger cities where their teams have been a bust. Look at Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City. Their fans LOVE their NBA teams and support them. The NBA would never have considered starting a team in any of those cities though. They had to have an existing team move. Even the NFL won't come to Salt Lake City, even though I'm sure it would do fabulously well there. The commissioners of these leagues are morons, and they will continue to compromise their product until its bankrupt. It might take 20 years, but it will happen. People are fickle, it could happen next year, who knows.

Posted by Roger C. on February 4, 2012 07:36 PM

Expand by 2 teams, one in LA and one SA (renovated Alamodome), eliminate the divisions and play a 16-game round-robin.

Posted by KingmanIII on February 5, 2012 10:46 AM

Did you notice Rodgers words when he said "we are building a stadium" Then was interrupted by Costas and threw both projects out there.

Lets not play dumb here, He was clearly speaking of AEG and negotiating a deal downtown. Roskis plan is just for competitive purposes which i don't think stand a chance with his method of letting the team finance the stadium there.

There is so much going behind the scenes between AEG and the NFL that what is said on TV is to ease the worries of other NFL markets on the hit list. The way I hear it is AEG are well respected by the NFL and have many business relations, especially when it comes to entertainment and putting on half time shows for the Superbowl's and other events. AEG will get their team at the guidance of the commissioner. One that EIR is completed downtown things will really start moving because now the green light says go and the rest will be all about where the money revenue goes. Those are the only 2 huge factors at this moment. The EIR and a workable/ Viable money stream for the team that relocates and for the League in general. AEG will have to have a guarantee that a team is coming because AEG wont start construction without a deal in place. I heard there were construction workers downtown getting ready for this project to take place and assessing the whole area to start tearing down the south convention hall. I really believe this is going to happen over the next few years.

Posted by trancefreak on February 13, 2012 10:55 PM

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