The Rams are coming to Los Angeles next season, and soon maybe the Chargers too, but the new, $2-billion-plus NFL stadium planned for Inglewood won’t be ready for action until 2019.
So where is a displaced pro football franchise to play around the Southland in the meantime?
There are limited known options.
The most likely landing place is the Coliseum, which is ready to offer refuge to one team and may be interested in trying to find room for the other.
USC is the only current tenant at the iconic stadium, but the Coliseum long played host to three teams — USC, UCLA and the NFL’s Rams, who were later replaced by the Raiders. From 1946 to 1949, it was home to USC, UCLA, the Rams and the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference, and in 1960 it was home to USC, UCLA, the Rams and the Chargers before the AFL expansion team left for San Diego.
The return of two professional teams to the stadium would be a financial windfall for USC, which needs to fund a proposed $270-million upgrade to the stadium it presented in a preliminary plan to the Coliseum Commission last October.
USC’s lease agreement limits the number of major events at the Coliseum to 25 in a calendar year, although there is an exception. If one NFL team uses the stadium on a temporary basis, its games won’t count toward the major-event limitation so long as the total number of major events does not exceed 30 in a calendar year.
A Coliseum Commission spokesman said Tuesday that the lease agreement could be amended in a process that would require USC to submit a request in writing to the commission, which would then have to meet to discuss the proposal in public before putting any proposal to a vote.
A potential pitfall: Exposition Park’s other tenants could raise issues because major events can cause disruptions to their operations.
If the Coliseum can’t take both teams, there are four other known options for professional football in Southern California: the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and the StubHub Center in Carson. And though none have embraced the NFL’s previous overtures, they may be willing to reconsider once they know which prospective tenant they would be getting.
The 92,000-seat Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which has staged five Super Bowls, offers the best fit. Three years ago, the Pasadena City Council, anticipating an NFL move, approved a proposal that would have allowed a relocating team to use the stadium for as many as five seasons.
The plan was challenged in the courts, with the city ultimately prevailing.
But that was all set aside last summer when the Rose Bowl Operating Co., which manages the stadium, voted unanimously not to respond to a league request for proposals for temporarily hosting an NFL team.
That doesn’t mean negotiations couldn’t be revisited, however.
Dodger Stadium, which also once courted the NFL, said Tuesday it is also out of the running.
“We have no plans for bringing the NFL here to Dodger Stadium,” said Lon Rosen, the team’s chief marketing officer.
Dodger Stadium is ill-suited for professional football anyway. Some field-level seating would have to be torn out to make room for a football field. Plus, the NFL season, which begins with exhibition games in August, would create scheduling conflicts since it overlaps with the baseball pennant stretch and the playoffs.
Those aren’t the only issues. The additional wear and tear on the field would make it difficult to play both baseball and football there concurrently, as multiple-use stadiums in Miami Gardens and Oakland have shown.
Similar issues would also face a team moving to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the Rams’ home from 1980 to 1994. And renovations to the stadium have reduced capacity from 69,008 when the Rams played there to less than 46,000, which would make it the smallest stadium in the league.
Putting an NFL team at the StubHub Center might be the most challenging of local options, since the soccer-specific venue has only 27,000 seats — half the number of the smallest NFL stadium, the O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
Like the Rose Bowl, the StubHub Center did not respond to the NFL’s request for proposals.
Doubling StubHub Center’s capacity by August would be difficult — if not impossible — especially since construction would interfere with a Major League Soccer season that begins in March. But the stadium has staged a variety of events, including football, in the past and AEG could join the conversation with the NFL under the right circumstances.
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