Gameplan: Outside Northern California

Update 4:52 PM – Twitter follower @edwardjohnCA pointed out Peter King’s recent Monday Morning QB column, in which he rules out any team moving to LA in 2013 due to the short time required to make progress on the temporary and permanent stadium deals.

Los Angeles

That big city to the south has all of its ducks in a row.

The company trying to build Farmers Field, AEG, also has substantial holdings in Downtown LA, so they have a vested interest in making the project work. The biggest obstacles are the NFL (and one or two teams) and the fate of AEG, which could be sold for upwards of $8 billion. It’s expected that AEG will be sold whole instead of piecemeal, the better to maintain the integration and cross-promotion among its various groups.

A 45-day window for NFL teams to apply to move to LA starts on New Year’s Day. The NFL is in no hurry to approve any moves, and the new CBA ensures that no team will lose money thanks to nearly $10 billion in annual revenue and extensive revenue sharing. The league may want to wait for the AEG sale process to shake out before deciding what to do next, which may mean that no team will be granted a move (and could be discouraged from applying) in 2013. Should a team like the Chargers or Raiders decide they want to be a first mover, the opportunity is there.

2013 will mark a full decade since the Super Bowl has been held in Southern California, and 20 years since the game was hosted in LA. Much of the renewed effort in Atlanta, and Miami is to maintain those cities’ slots in the Super Bowl rotation. AEG’s LA bid shows its interest in entering the fray. It’s a major risk/reward proposition, but considering the ungodly amounts of private capital that are showing interest, there are a lot of rich folks who feel it’s worth it.

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San Diego

The election of Bob Filner as the next mayor could end up being the death knell of pro football in SD. Filner has shown no interest in opening the city’s wallet for the NFL, even using that stance as part of his election platform. Chargers brass has shown patience so far, but they may be relegated to working with Chula Vista or another suburb. San Diego needs champions in both the public and private sectors to pull off a stadium deal. So far there’s no indicator who those champions are.

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Baseball stalking horses

For now, all of the major relocation candidate cities (Portland, San Antonio, Charlotte, Las Vegas) are busy attending to other things.

  • Portland has a mayor uninterested in pulling the necessary strings, and the city allowed its MLS franchise to displace its PCL team, probably not a feather in the city’s cap when dealing with The Lodge.
  • San Antonio is focused on bringing its Texas League (AA) team closer to downtown. Meanwhile, ticket sales for the two exhibition games at the Alamodome are said to be brisk. San Antonio is clearly a market that’s too big for AA, yet is small for MLB.
  • Charlotte broke ground on its AAA ballpark, which will bring the IL Knights back across the border from Fort Mill, SC to uptown Charlotte. In committing to the Knights, the city appears to have accepted its stature as a AAA, not MLB, market.
  • Las Vegas gets a sports facility plan every 4-6 months, so watch this space. Recently, all of the pitches have been focused on everything except baseball. UNLV has a football stadium plan. There was a private multi-stadium plan. Now that Oscar Goodman has retired from his prominent Vegas mayoral post (replaced by his wife, no less), active pursuit of pro franchises has practically dropped to nothing. A 10-year lease extension for the PCL 51’s to stay at Cashman Field was signed in October. Like Charlotte, Vegas too may have accepted its fate for now.

The last decade has taught cities and observers one valuable lesson about MLB: they have to pay (big) to play. Most of the small and mid markets were shown little interest outside of providing competition. The cost to build a venue and the lack of public funding for venues have become the biggest obstacles to bringing in teams. Who could’ve predicted that 20 years ago?

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