Saying and writing the NFL isn’t going to return to Los Angeles any time soon is a bit irresponsible.
At some point, its return is inevitable.
And whether you like it or not, size – market size – does matter.
Nothing’s changed in regards to Los Angeles and its temporary separation with the NFL.
- The City of Angels is still the second largest market in the country behind only New York City.
- The “Entertainment Capital of the World” is about to embark on its 19th season without an NFL team.
- The ONLY reason there isn’t a team(s) in L.A – .no new state-of-the-art stadium -YET.
- The St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are STILL possible candidates to fill the NFL void in Los Angeles.
When discussing stadium possibilities in Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland numbers thrown out to rebuild – or just build a brand new building outright – vary from $700-million to $1.6-billion.
More numbers to remember when considering these new football stadiums are these.
You’re guaranteed to have at least ten games in a brand new stadium (20 if two teams call it home a la the Giants and Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey).
Just two preseason games and eight regular season games.
If you’re lucky and your team secures a home-field playoff spot, you get an extra game and maybe two extra games if your team is good enough to host a conference championship game.
So that’s a total of a possible 12 games (24 if there are two teams occupying the same stadium).
Of course I’m not figuring in said stadium(s) possibly being in the rotation to host the Super Bowl and other events if a roof is part of the equation.
Only a possible 12 football games make market size a huge variable.
As an example – and an example ONLY – let’s put St. Louis up against Los Angeles.
After numbers were tallied from the 2012 census, Los Angeles’ metropolitan area continues to rank second with a little over 13-million people. Plenty of people to follow a couple of NFL teams.
St. Louis ranks 19th with 2.8-million people. That’s plenty of people to back an NFL team.
But can a cash-strapped city like St. Louis afford to ask taxpayers to foot a portion of the bill for a new stadium that possibly hosts 12 games while a Los Angeles stadium is shovel-ready and to be PRIVATELY funded without having to ask Joe Public to pay for a portion of the bill.
Taking those figures into account, the NFL is the only league that practices revenue sharing. In other words, theoretically, every team, regardless of market size, makes the same amount of TV money negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement insuring competitive balance.
But when it comes to the value of an NFL team, market size is a HUGE variable – like it or not.
That’s because the branding of the team based on location, location, location adds opportunities for both the team and its players through independent revenue streams outside of those shared among the existing 32 teams via the CBA.
As an example, based on Forbes’ list of the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams the New York Yankees are the most valuable team in the country (4th overall in the world). The Dallas Cowboys, branded America’s Team, are the top-ranked NFL team (5th overall in the world) and have been for six years.
The Cowboys history of success, image and brand as America’s Team have enabled them to garner, and I quote,” the league’s highest sponsorship and premium seating revenues—a combined $200 million.”
Not coincidentally, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the 4th largest in the country.
Because of its brand the Dallas Cowboys are able to hold their summer training camp in Oxnard California – approximately 1500 miles from Downtown Dallas – and attract NFL-hungry Southern California crowds of approximately 5,000 fans during weekdays and 8,000-10,000 fans on weekend days.
On-line St. Louis Rams fans are proudly boasting about crowds of 1700+ fans showing up to Rams camp in Missouri on weekdays, 2300+ on weekend days.
The Dallas Cowboy brand is known all over the world as are the brands of the New York Yankees, New York Giants, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers and, now, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Remember, this is just an example.
Those aforementioned teams and their players have incredible endorsement opportunities and other independent revenue streams afforded them, not part of any league’s CBAs, markets like St. Louis just don’t have.
As an example I’ll cite former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson who played nine seasons in the Gateway City. He’s the franchise’s all-time leading rusher becoming the 27th player in league history to rush for 10,000+ yards in his career.
He played in relative obscurity for a couple of reasons. A major one being the Rams were terrible during his career in St. Louis. Another is, well, he played in St. Louis.
Had Jackson been a member of a team playing in Los Angeles racking up the on-the-field individual numbers he did in St. Louis, national endorsement opportunities as well as appearances on television or in movies would have been afforded him giving him those independent revenue streams he was never afforded playing in St. Louis.
After all, Los Angeles is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Those independent revenue streams happened for members of the Los Angeles Rams including the Fearsome Foursome lineman – Deacon Jones (Lite Beer Commercials, Heaven Can Wait, Be-Witched), Merlin Olsen (Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, FTD Flower Commercials), Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier, defensive end Fred Dryer – who played TVs “Hunter” when his playing career ended in the 80s, even Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch was a movie star during his playing days for the L.A. Rams in the 1950s.
When they were “Hollywood’s Rams” playing in Los Angeles – not Anaheim, their brand was as big as any other American sports franchise in a big market.
In other sports, do you think the legend of fictional twins separated at birth – Chris and Cliff Paul – would’ve materialized in New Orleans where Chris Paul began his NBA career with the then-Hornets….let alone St. Louis which doesn’t have an NBA team and hasn’t had one since the 1950s?
I don’t think so.
How about Blake Griffin going back in time for KIA Motors. Would he be doing this if he were playing for the St. Louis Whatevers instead of the Los Angeles Clippers?
I don’t think so.
And what about independent revenue streams for the team owner. Remember the Cowboys and their premium seat revenues as well as the naming rights of the stadium going to AT & T.
For a Los Angeles team owner, the stadium’s already generating revenue thanks to the naming rights purchased by Farmers Insurance Group. Those seating revenues in the form of luxury boxes and personal seat licenses will bring in a pretty penny that’s much more lucrative than any in St. Louis.
Location, Location, Location means everything for a team’s brand – as well as those of its players – for other revenue streams they don’t have to share with other franchises in their leagues.
The St. Louis Rams rank out of that Forbes World’s Top 50 Franchise list.
Imagine where they’d rank if they were the Los Angeles Rams.
The L.A. Coliseum – home of the USC Trojans, or the Pasadena Rose Bowl – home of the UCLA Bruins and the Grand Daddy Bowl of them All, could house the Rams while Farmers Field is constructed with PRIVATE funds.
I think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Rams owner Stan Kroenke have thought about all of these points.