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October 02, 2009

L.A. NFL stadium move threats spreading faster than swine flu

Forget the Dallas Cowboys' snazzy new stadium — what's really sparking renewed stadium demands across the nation is the spreading fear that a new stadium in the Los Angeles area could lure an NFL team or two to relocate. The latest team to take advantage: the Minnesota Vikings, whose VP for stadium wheedling Lester Bagley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press they're preparing a new push for $700 million in stadium subsidies, and added this only slightly veiled threat: "If the answer is no, then why would you own a team in this market?"

The Vikings have "no interest in extending our lease at the Metrodome" beyond 2011, said Bagley, who added for emphasis, in case anyone failed to make the connection: "The clock is ticking, and the lease is coming due. The state can't afford to have us become free agents."

Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver is apparently attempting to develop a more home-grown move threat, saying he might move one home game to Orlando's Citrus Bowl — though he added that it would need renovations to "accommodate the kind of revenues you have to derive out of an NFL stadium." This at the same time that Weaver is trying to get additional public money from Jacksonville to renovate his team's current home. Bring out the whipsaw!


Is Orlando a real possibility for the Jaguars to move to? There's been discussions before in the past for Orlando/Central Florida to get a pro sports franchise, but I've never heard of the NFL as a possibility. It's probably just a ploy by the Jags to leverage as many cities as possible.

I still think the Vikings have a high probability to move to LA. The league and team ownership wants a new stadium largely financed by public dollars. But Minnesota, having just built a new hockey arena, college football stadium, and ballpark in the last 12 years, are probably tapped out. And remember that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is seriously mounting a bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination - he certainly will not allow a major tax increase on his constituents to finance a new stadium. There's no loyalty to Minnesota from the current owners, so I'd expect the Vikes to have anew name and home in LA in the next few years.

Posted by Ian on October 4, 2009 05:17 PM

Forbes just listed the Colt's owner Jim Irsay as the 347th wealthiest person in America at 1.1 billion dollars. Apparently building a 750 million dollar stadium at the expense of the taxpayers beats working for a living.

Posted by Follow The Money on October 4, 2009 05:20 PM

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