This week, NFL owners will be hearing two proposals from competing NFL franchises for a stadium in the vicinity of Los Angeles. One stadium is a joint venture between the ownership of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, while another proposal comes from the St. Louis Rams (who not-so-recently called Los Angeles home). Both proposals are for a stadium that would be able to accommodate two NFL franchises in a city that currently has none.
Ignoring for a moment what happened last time the NFL put two teams in Los Angeles (they both left), why does the NFL believe that two teams would be the best way to reintroduce football to Los Angeles? Los Angeles is a huge market, and one with a deep thirst for professional sports – but two teams relocating to a city that currently has agnostic rooting interests at best seems like a wild gamble from the most conservative sports league in the nation.
The answer is simple: They’re bluffing.
The NFL owners know full well the risks of relocating two teams to a single market at a time when a good amount of football teams are struggling to fill seats. Instead, NFL owners want to keep the idea of a Los Angeles relocation dangling over the heads of NFL cities across the country as unhappy owners agitate for new, publicly financed stadiums. As long as the idea of a Los Angeles relocation exists, municipalities will continue to cave in to demands for new stadiums replete with luxury boxes that tax payers can’t afford (even though they paid to build it).
For years, the NFL has used Los Angeles as a threat. Now that it’s actually placing a team there, the NFL needs to keep that threat in place. So don’t be surprised when only one team gets their Los Angeles wish – that was the plan all along.