The list of relocation candidates for a future LA football stadium may be long, but Jacksonville and Buffalo appear to be way ahead of the rest. California’s three existing teams are on the backburner due to ongoing stadium efforts for each. The two eastern teams are both small market, making LA’s potential a built-in selling point for the NFL and other team owners.
Neither Jacksonville nor Buffalo have new stadia on the horizon, and it’s not clear if new digs would actually help them. The Jags have had constant trouble selling out the old Gator Bowl, enough that several upper deck sections have been tarped off. The Bills sell quite well in western New York and have frequently placed in the upper half of the NFL’s attendance figures. Their trial balloon of playing at Rogers Centre in Toronto hasn’t panned out the way they’d envisioned, leading some to think that the CA$78 million being paid to Ralph Wilson for a mere 8 games over 5 years is just a money grab (average ticket cost: $51 in Buffalo vs. $183 in Toronto).
Regardless of who’s being targeted, the real news here is Ed Roski’s change in his required ownership stance. To wit:
Semcken also said Majestic chief executive Ed Roski’s preference is to find owners willing to sell their franchise to a consortium of investors that he would lead, rather than buying a minority stake in a team that would move with its existing majority owner at the helm.
A few weeks ago, the thought was that Roski would be able to get in with just his stake in the stadium while the entire ownership group could enrich themselves with the ancillary development that could happen over time. Now that he’s pursuing a more traditional ownership model, the hill for Roski and supporters of future team in LA just got steeper.
Calling the Jacksonville Stadium the “old Gator Bowl” is a bit misleading. According to wikipedia, the only aspects of the old stadium kept were the upper deck on one side (which had been added in ’82) and exterior ramps. Everything else was rebuilt in ’94-’95. It’s a bit like saying that the Warriors play in a 40-year old arena.
Regardless the age of Jacksonville Stadium isn’t really the issue. The fact the very rarely sell out, are the most blacked out team, and are third to last in attendance are the real issues. (The teams below Jacksonville are Detroit, who have a brand new stadium, and Oakland who may or may not have a new stadium coming and who have an owner who has sued the NFL so many times they just leave him to his own devices).