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September 26, 2013

By ELIZABETH HSING-HUEI CHOU

City News Service

 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles City Council’s Economic Development Commit­tee Tuesday September 24 backed a resolution urging the National Football League to bring back at least one, and possibly two teams to the region.

The resolution will now go before the full City Council.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, the author of the resolution, said it “puzzles me why, out of 32 teams, one doesn’t want to come here to sunny Southern California.”

While local football enthusiasts have had difficulty getting even one team to call Los Angeles home, LaBonge’s resolution declares an interest in making it a two-team town.

Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL, said today the league is keeping an eye on Los Angeles.

“We continue to closely monitor all stadium developments in the Los Angeles area,” he said.

LaBonge said his “real hope is the league expands” to 34 teams, so that Los Angeles would actually be getting its own team — or teams —rather than poaching from other cities.

The St. Louis Rams, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers are seen as likely candidates to relocate because they may be interested in upgrading their stadium facilities.

All three of those teams used to play in Los Angeles. The Chargers played in Los Angeles during the team’s first season in 1960 as part of the American Football League.

Asked if he would welcome the Raiders back to Los Angeles, LaBonge quipped he would as long as several former Raiders players from the 1980s are “called out of retirement,” including Marcus Allen and Howie Long.

McCarthy did not respond to a question asking if the NFL plans to expand.

LaBonge earlier this month addressed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging an end to an 18-season NFL drought in Los Angeles. In his missive, LaBonge professed his deep love for the sport and said it's time to “call an audible” after years of unfulfilled plans.

“We’ve waited far too long to root for the home team,” LaBonge said of the renewed efforts to show the NFL the city's enthusiasm for the sport.

“Our collective excitement for the new NFL season is dampened by Los Angeles’ lack of a team,” he said.

The Los Angeles area has not had an NFL team since 1994. In 1995, the Los Angeles Raiders returned to Oakland after playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994 and the Los Angeles Rams, who played in Anaheim Stadium, moved to St. Louis.

City leaders last fall signed a deal with entertainment and sports events company AEG to redevelop the Los Angeles Convention Center to include additional exhibition space. The agreement includes using a football stadium project at the site as leverage for bringing in financing for the convention center improvements.

Earlier this year, the announcement by Tim Leiweke, a key AEG negotiator in the deal, that he would be resigning from the company cast doubt on the future of the convention center improvements. By then the latest deadline for securing an NFL team to play at the proposed stadium had also come and gone without any action taken.

The mayoral transition also brought a shift in the city's attitude toward bringing in an NFL team, with new Mayor Eric Garcetti saying that while he would welcome a team, it was not his top priority.

Category: Sports