The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the City and AEG, allowing the NFL stadium project to move forward.
Approval of the stadium plan would kick off nine months of intensive negotiations with AEG, which has promised to pay for the new stadium and two parking garages on its own dime. And it would allow city planners to press ahead with preparation of an environmental impact report on the project, which would assess such issues as traffic, noise and glare in nearby neighborhoods.
Like the Bay Area stadia, Farmers Field in L.A. is slated for a 2015 opening. To get there, the process work like the EIR and actual physical preparation steps such as demolition will have to be significantly accelerated. It’s hard to see how an EIR can be completed in nine months, but the project seems to have enough power brokers behind it that it might actually happen.
The key is for two NFL teams to call the stadium home. Since it looks like none of the Midwestern or Eastern teams (Minnesota, Buffalo, Jacksonville, St. Louis) are expected to have new digs anytime soon and San Diego is still up in the air, they are the likely relocation targets. However, as much as I get the idea of having two teams to pay off the facility’s debt service, I have to wonder if having two teams in LA will only serve to depress demand for the NFL product there. For the sake of argument, let’s say the Rams and Jaguars are the two teams. The Rams at least have a historic fanbase they can tap into. The Jags don’t, plus they haven’t been around that long, period. The Rams may sell out, but what would bring fans out to see the Jags? I could see lots of TV blackouts in the #2 market, which would neutralize whatever good economic impact came from bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles. One team is probably the best solution, and even then it’s no sure thing.