November 10, 2005

NFL says two teams might land in Los Angeles area

By Kemp Powers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles area, which has not
had a professional football team since the 1994 season, is now
a prime candidate for two franchises, NFL Commissioner Paul
Tagliabue said on Thursday.

"I think in the next several months we can bring something
to fruition," Tagliabue said at a news conference on the steps
of Los Angeles City Hall after meeting with Mayor Antonio

Tagliabue met on Wednesday with California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to discuss the possibility of bringing teams to
the antiquated Los Angeles Coliseum, the former home of both
the National Football League's Rams and Raiders, as well as a
proposed new stadium in Anaheim.

While bringing a team to the Coliseum was a priority,
Tagliabue emphasized that "We're not looking at this as an
either, or." Supporters of both prospective locations have
competed aggressively in the past.

The Rams who played at Anaheim Stadium moved to St. Louis,
and the Raiders who played at the Coliseum moved to Oakland,
both after the 1994 season.

He would not say when football might return to Los Angeles,
but said both an expansion franchise or a relocated existing
franchise were options.

He also deflected questions about whether the league would
support relocating the beleaguered New Orleans Saints to Los
Angeles. "We're not discussing the Saints in Los Angeles as a
priority," he said. "We're discussing the Saints in Louisiana
as a priority."

Saints' owner Tom Benson discussed moving the team from the
city after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Efforts to return an NFL team to Los Angeles, the nation's
second largest media market, have failed amid clashes over the
financing of a new or renovated stadium. Los Angeles lost out
to Houston for the rights to host an expansion franchise that
joined the league in 2002.

The most recent Coliseum proposal has been spearheaded by
Councilman Bernard Parks, whose 8th Council District includes
the historic stadium.

His current plan calls for building a $500 million stadium
inside the existing facade of the Coliseum, which was built
between 1921 and 1923 at a cost of $800,000 and hosted the
Olympics in 1932 and 1984. A renovation to Chicago's Soldier
Field was completed in 2003 for an estimated $365 million.

Parks dismissed concerns that bringing a team to Anaheim
would affect the Coliseum plan. "I don't know if the NFL has
ever gone to any city and only had one option," he said.

Tagliabue was optimistic that city, county and state
officials could finalize a proposal to be presented at the
annual meeting of NFL team owners in March.