NFL takes one (small) step closer to Los Angeles

The NFL finally has taken what appears to be one step closer to staging a team — or two — in Los Angeles.

This topic comes up at least a couple of times per season, basically whenever a team needs leverage in its current stadium negotiations. This time could be different, though. 

According to a memo obtained by the LA Times, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman has been assigned to "stadium development, the return of a team presence to the Los Angeles area, the league’s strategic investment fund, and other key strategic initiatives."

Sam Farmer of the Times says the NFL hasn’t had someone in LA of Grubman’s nature in more than 10 years. The Times got in touch with Grubman to ask if the restructuring has anything to do with the league’s renewed focus on bringing a team to LA, and he replied, "We think it does."

Grubman went on to say: "The building blocks are there. There remain multiple sites available. So the focus is demanded."

With the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders all currently on year-to-year leases, the odds of a team landing in LA couldn’t be higher. All three teams have ties to Los Angeles, too. The Chargers basically are southern California’s NFL team, if there even is one; and St. Louis and Oakland both played in LA until 1994. 

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Many LA stadium proposals have come and gone, with AEG’s plan to build a football stadium downtown near LA Live being the most intriguing. The best plan now for the league would be to build a stadium independent of any one team. The league then could retain ownership of the stadium and would be able to lease it out to one, maybe two NFL teams, as well as for other sporting events.

Even though the NFL in LA narrative is progressing — at a snail’s pace, mind you — team owners consistently have used LA as leverage to get what they want in their existing cities. The threat of moving a team to Los Angeles is more valuable to owners than the would-be financial benefits of actually having an team in LA.

Anyway, at least it looks like the NFL Draft will travel west in 2015.