Coliseum’s temporary availability is another twist in NFL-to-L.A. story

Memorial Coliseum officials will put in a bid with the NFL to become a temporary home to a team relocating to Los Angeles.

Memorial Coliseum officials will put in a bid with the NFL to become a temporary home to a team relocating to Los Angeles.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The NFL is having a hard time lining up more than one temporary site in case two teams were to relocate to Los Angeles. The Coliseum is the only venue willing to house a team while a stadium was being built and has made it clear it wants one pro team.

While this is a headache for the league, it’s not a game changer. Some might surmise that, because there’s only one such vacancy, it has to mean the St. Louis Rams are the franchise that will be given the green light to move.

But as anyone who has followed this saga for 20 years knows, it’s risky to apply logic to any of this process. Illogical twists and turns have been the defining characteristic of the L.A. story.

In June, the NFL sent requests for proposals to five area venues — the Coliseum, Rose Bowl, StubHub Center, Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium.

The Rose Bowl and StubHub Center declined to respond to the league. USC, which operates the Coliseum, has a contract that says the stadium can host only one NFL team, and it is willing to do so. The two ballparks have not given a definitive answer, publicly at least, but each has scheduling issues with the football/baseball overlap in August and September.


The league sees this more as an inconvenience than something that would dictate the outcome of who would eventually move. The tail — in this case the availability of temporary venues — will not wag the dog here.

It has caused the NFL to consider some unorthodox possibilities if two teams were to simultaneously relocate, such as the Raiders relocating but continuing to play their games in Oakland while a new stadium were being built in Carson, or playing in San Antonio, or perhaps spending a month in London until a baseball stadium were to become available.

All of this underscores a basic truth: The L.A. puzzle isn’t checkers, it’s three-dimensional chess.

There’s another complicating aspect to this. Next week, NFL owners will meet in Chicago to discuss the L.A. situation and hear from backers of the competing Inglewood and Carson proposals, and from City of San Diego officials. For a lot of these owners, L.A. is not top of mind. They don’t lose sleep about the “California dilemma,” or follow each incremental development in the push to bring pro football back to the nation’s second-largest market. They only pay attention to it when they get occasional updates at meetings.

These are the people who ultimately will decide if a team gets to move. A team needs at least 24 of 32 votes for approval. So the message those owners are receiving — that L.A. won’t jump through hoops to get an NFL team the way other cities might — could color their decision and enthusiasm about the market.

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, who is overseeing the L.A. process, said he’s not concerned about the current status of temporary venues, and that the situation will work itself out by the end of the year.

“If Eric does not have two viable options, then, yes, it will send a signal [to owners],” said Marc Ganis, a sports business consultant who has worked closely with the NFL for years. “But if Eric is able to devise two viable options, then it will just be considered part of the process.

“But if they have to contort too much, if they say, ‘We’ve got to consider playing in Oakland or San Diego even though it’s dead man walking,’ those are the kind of considerations that would get people to say, ‘Wait a minute, is there really a market in L.A.? Do they really want the NFL there?’ It would just cause them to think about it.”

Now, even with the snubs from the Rose Bowl and StubHub Center, the NFL is continuing to move forward.

For the time being, it’s just another day in L.A.