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When Will Football Return To Los Angeles?

The days of NFL football at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are long gone, but could the city of Los Angeles have a new team in the not-too-distant future?

The days of NFL football at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are long gone, but could the city of Los Angeles have a new team in the not-too-distant future?

The topic of football in Los Angeles reemerged this week thanks to a pair of news stories doing the rounds.

On Tuesday, the San Antonio Express-News published a story detailing the extent to which meetings between the city and the Oakland Raiders football organization had progressed.

The city’s interest in luring the Raiders to the Alamo City had been reported as early as the middle of last month, but few seemed to think there was much in the initial meetings.

The latest reports suggest that the research and preparation that went into the meetings was extensive and very serious, with an eye firmly on bringing the NFL team to Texas.

According to the Express-News, if the city was able to lure the Raiders it would extensively renovate the Alamodome to bring it in-line with the NFL’s current standards.

The Raiders, of course, have always been a favorite to return to Los Angeles, where they competed from 1982 to 1994.

Later on Tuesday, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the NBA Hall of Famer and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, pricked a few ears with his comments about the NFL and the City of Angels.

Speaking with Yahoo! Sports, the self-confessed Los Angeles Raiders fan said that he believed the city of Los Angeles would get a team “in the next couple of years, at least in the next 24 months.”

While prognostications that football return to L.A. are nothing new, the fact that it was Johnson – a figure at the beating heart of the city’s sports scene – making the bold claim was enough for many to lend cadence to the belief.

Johnson made it clear that he wasn’t sure which team would arrive in the city, and that this was just his personal feeling, but the comments were enough to get many – this writer including – wondering just which team might land in the City of Angels.

Here are the likely candidates:

1. Oakland Raiders

For the last few years the Raiders have not only been a candidate to move south but in many people’s eyes are expected to move. Continued negotiations issues regarding a new stadium to replace the Oakland Coliseum (currently O.co Coliseum) make the black and silver a flight risk to say the least. Those talks with the city of San Antonio have placed an asterisk beside the Raiders though. Would the NFL really opt for a third team in Texas before it has a hook in Los Angeles though?

2. San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are another team playing in an outdated stadium; another team that is floating along rather than making an impact; and another team that has a link, albeit a long-forgotten one, to the City of Angels – the team started life as the Los Angeles Chargers in the old AFL. With no stadium deal in place and with the logistics of a move to Los Angeles fairly straightforward, the Chargers are a good bet to be on the move.

3. St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams are another team with connections to Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Rams plied their trade in L.A. between 1946 and 1979 and then in Anaheim between 1980 and 1994. Due to a dispute with the city of St. Louis over stadium renovations, the Rams can opt out of their existing agreement at the end of this coming season, making them a huge flight risk. Add to that the fact that owner Stan Kroenke bought a chunk of land near the Forum in Inglewood earlier this year, and you have the recipe for a team on the move.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Most expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to move eventually. The city itself is often cited as being too low profile for an NFL franchise while the Jaguars have been bad for a long time now. But owner Shad Khan continues to promise to keep the team in the River City, when the team isn’t across the pond in London – which begs a different question altogether. A hefty get-out clause attached to a stadium lease through 2030 also makes an impending move improbable.

5. Buffalo Bills

In 1979, the Buffalo Braves headed west, first to San Diego and then onto Los Angeles, where they would become the Los Angeles Clippers. The likelihood of the Buffalo Bills following their NBA counterpart’s lead has to be infinitesimal, regardless of who becomes the new owner. Still, with 14 playoff-less years and a heap of attendance issues, the Bills aren’t exactly a lock to stick around the cold climes of Western New York.

6. Expansion franchise(s)

Of course, a Los Angeles team doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of an existing franchise. The NFL could always opt for expansion, something that hasn’t happened since the Houston Texans arrived in the league in 2002. Maybe it’s time for a change in numbers?

As things stand, there are reportedly two sites that are being prepared for the arrival of an NFL team.

The first is Farmers Field, a proposed 72,000-seat stadium that would be constructed on the L.A. Live site, behind the Staples Center, home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

The Downtown Los Angeles location comes with a hefty amount of promise and attraction, and one the National Football League offices would surely love to see a team cozy up in.

The second site, located in the City of Industry about 22 miles east of Downtown, is purported to be ready for groundbreaking. The proposed stadium will seat 75,000 and be the crown jewel of a brand new entertainment complex.

Of course, the number climbs to three if Rams’ owner Kroenke does indeed have plans to build on his Inglewood plot.

For now we’re simply left waiting to learn the fate of Los Angeles and its relationship with the NFL, a relationship that, when the 2014 season kicks off in three weeks’ time, will  have been on a break for 20 years.

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