Team or not, L.A. has a shot at 2016 Super Bowl

Farmer is a Times staff writer.

This space is normally reserved for on-field football strategies, but today is dedicated to off-the-field maneuverings that could help shape the future of the NFL in Los Angeles.

For the last two years, local businessmen Casey Wasserman and Tim Leiweke have been working behind the scenes with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the NFL to bring the 2016 Super Bowl, the league’s 50th -- Super Bowl L -- to L.A., whether or not there’s a team here.

Wasserman and Leiweke both declined to comment on the concept this week, and Villaraigosa, presumably busy with the elections, did not return phone messages. But Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, a member of the league’s Super Bowl committee, raised the possibility of L.A. playing host to that landmark game.


“In L.A., it’s there for the taking,” Irsay, who spends a lot of time here and is a member of Riviera Country Club, said in a telephone interview.

“People there are going to have to make it happen, make it work. But I know right now people are ready to put their time and effort into making this work.”

There is a historical reason for staging that game in L.A. The first Super Bowl, pitting Kansas City and Green Bay, was played at the Coliseum in January 1967. In the years that followed, one more Super Bowl was played at the Coliseum, and five were played at the Rose Bowl.

If Super Bowl L were to come to the L.A. area, it would be played at the Rose Bowl, Coliseum, or -- and this is a longshot -- at a new stadium. The concept du jour is Ed Roski’s proposal for a venue in City of Industry.

It’s not as if the league just hands Super Bowls to cities. Those cities compete for the game, which, according to NFL estimates, generates as much as $400 million for the local economy.

That competition includes elaborate bid proposals. Indianapolis privately raised $25 million for its bid, which was successful in landing the 2012 game.


Super Bowls are awarded years in advance. The next four sites have been decided -- Tampa, Miami, Dallas and Indianapolis -- and the 2013 game probably will be awarded this spring.

This is by no means a slam dunk.

Irsay said the ball is in L.A.’s court, and it will be interesting to see if the city’s business community steps up.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if somebody were to say, ‘We’re going to go out and get this thing,’ they’d have a helluva chance,” Irsay said. “They’d have my vote, I’ll tell you that.”

As for anyone thinking public funds would be committed? Must have been playing football without a helmet.