On Thursday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing the construction of a 75,000-seat stadium by developer Ed Roski in the City of Industry, 15 miles east of Los Angeles, in hopes of drawing an NFL team back to the country's second-largest media market.
By signing the bill, a lawsuit brought by residents of the adjacent City of Walnut has been nullified. The city had filed suit claiming the project would have severe environmental impact, a suit Schwarzenegger claimed was frivolous.
"This is the best of action state government can create," Schwarzenegger said. "This is action that cuts red tape, generates jobs, is environmentally friendly and brings a continued economic boost to California."
Los Angeles hasn't had an NFL team since the end of the 1994 season, when the Rams fled to St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland. The plan is to target as many as seven different franchises following the Super Bowl, including the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Charger, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. However, Schwarzenegger is hoping the other current California teams are part of the pursuit.
The rationale is simple for why the seven franchises being targeted are in Roski's sights. In some cases, the stadiums are too small. In others, attendance is down. For others, like the Vikings, the stadium can't be updated with luxury boxes or revenue streams that have had them fall behind other stadiums for generating revenue within the league.
Roski said he plans to break ground once a team is locked in. It was a stadium issue that prompted both L.A.-based teams to leave in the first place. Efforts to get the NFL back during expansion involved renovating either the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl. Their efforts failed when the NFL chose Houston, which outbid the Los Angeles group by more than $150 million. With the NFL currently at 32 teams and symmetrical in the terms of schedules – eight divisions each with four teams – it is unlikely the league will look to expand further any time soon. All that leaves is relocation as an option.
The Vikings have just two years left on their Metrodome lease. Minnesota Govenor Tim Pawlenty has remained steadfast that publicly financing a stadium isn't a priority, but, with Pawlenty not going after another term as governor and the success of the Vikings making it very apparent that fans of Minnesota love their NFL team, there are some in the business and political community that believe the Vikings won't be the team eventually relocated. However, until a stadium deal is done here, the Vikings will remain one of the top choices to be relocated.