A real estate magnate in Los Angeles is set to propose a high-end stadium development that he hopes will lure a current NFL franchise to California. Of course, the Vikings are one of the teams that come to mind due to the lack of real interest from Minnesota's politicians.
Today is going to be a busy one in Los Angeles, as real estate magnate Edward Roski Jr. unveils a plan to build a football stadium in L.A., which has been without an NFL team since both the Rams and Raiders vacated the city. However, the bigger impact could eventually be on the Twin Cities and the Vikings.
Roski will unveil a plan today to build a football stadium in the City of Industry, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The stadium would be surrounded by high-end shops, office buildings and entertainment attractions – not too different from the stadium/shopping mecca proposed by Zygi Wilf in Anoka County a few years back.
What may have been the most troubling part of the news is that Roski looking to lure a current NFL team, John Semcken, vice president of Majestic Realty (Roski's real estate company) told the Associated Press. Semcken said that, if a team would commit to moving to Los Angeles, "we could begin construction in the final quarter of this year and have it ready for play for the first exhibition game in 2011."
If that 2011 number rings a bell, that is the final year of the Vikings' lease in the Metrodome. While the league had nothing to do with the plan or the announcement, Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed an interest in getting the NFL back into the second-largest media market in the country.
The Vikings might not be only team that Roski and his group could try to lure to L.A. San Diego, Buffalo and Jacksonville could all be subject to potentially moving if stadium deals can't get struck. The Vikings could be joining that short list sooner than later. The Minnesota State Legislature has refused to hear arguments for the construction of a new Vikings stadium and nothing is scheduled to even be heard during the remainder of this legislative session. Even if a stadium was approved for next year in Minnesota, it wouldn't be ready until 2012 or beyond.
For those who think that it can't happen, just remember this: the Los Angeles Lakers. Have you ever been to L.A.? There aren't a lot of lakes. That was the name the city retained when it took the Lakers away from Minneapolis and it took almost four decades for the NBA to return to Minnesota. Considering the popularity of the NFL, the same may never happen if the Vikings pull stakes.
While the Roski announcement is no reason for panic – others have tried and failed to get stadium deals done in Los Angeles – it can't help to know someone is waiting for a city with a current franchise to stumble like Minnesota appears to be. If it happens, they will be ready to pounce.
Former Viking Robert Smith got into an interesting debate with Kyle Turley over the issue of former players and their treatment by the league on a radio show hosted by Miami-based columnist Dan Le Batard Wednesday. Turley, who argued with Smith over the merits of the league's pension program for players from previous eras, got contentious. In the end, Turley dropped an F-bomb on Smith. Last year, former teammates Smith and Matt Birk had a similar discussion on ESPN, with Smith defending the league and NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw. Suffice it to say, his Harvard education precluded Birk from spouting obscenities.
After all the hoopla surrounding Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly's vitriolic display following his workout last week, he had a chance for redemption Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with Kelly's diatribe last week, after running slower-than-expected 40 times in an individual workout at the OU campus, Kelly blamed just about everyone else – the coaching staff, school administration, the Sooners medical staff, etc. He claimed his poor 40 times were the result of running on a bad surface. He had a chance to make up for that Wednesday in a private workout attended by representatives of the Browns, Packers and Giants. The results? Not much different. He ran a 4.63 and 4.65 40, according to published reports.
Perhaps the larger question concerned in the Kelly situation is why Cleveland was in attendance. The Browns don't have a draft pick until the fourth round and it seems unlikely that, barring a trade of Brady Quinn, the Browns will be in any position to select Kelly.
The Vikings showed little interest in free agent wide receiver Darrell Jackson, who was released by the 49ers following the end of the 2007 season. Jackson finally found a landing spot Wednesday – signing with Denver – pending a physical today.
Former Viking Mitch Berger, who was one of several punters being worked out be Denver earlier this week, visited the Patriots as well in hopes of getting a free-agent contract.