As an Oakland Raiders fan living in Los Angeles, I've been quite vocal about my desire for the team to move back here. I know this always angers the members of the Raider Nation who live in Northern California, but I think we all need to face the economic realities of a modern NFL team. The Raiders need a new stadium and that doesn't look like it's happening anytime soon in Oakland.
I think that with the new 49ers stadium already under construction in Santa Clara, without the Raiders' participation, another possibility has been eliminated as a shared stadium had been discussed. My feeling is the reality of Mark Davis moving the team, or more likely selling the team, to then be moved by a new owner, is a real possibility.
Another key step forward in the process to bring the Raiders or any NFL team to L.A. happened recently as an environmental report was released by the city of Pasadena about the impact an NFL team playing in that city's Rose Bowl stadium would have. Why that matters is because if a team moves here, whether it's the Raiders or any other team, the deal would probably be made fairly soon, maybe as soon as at the end of the 2012 season. And while I think a team would move here as soon as 2013, any new stadium would not be done until 2015 or even 2016 so that team will need a place to play.
The two obvious options are the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Coliseum is badly in need of renovation, and basically controlled by USC under a long-term lease. The Rose Bowl is currently being renovated, but is in the middle of a residential area and the neighbors do not seem to want an NFL team (and the traffic it brings) in their backyard. In 2006, two-thirds of the voters in that city voted against offering a long-term lease to an NFL team to play in the Rose Bowl.
The new environmental report, while highlighting a lot of issues and problems, also points out many solutions. The city will need to balance the positive economic impact of all those games against these environmental issues. The whole issue now goes to the Pasadena City Council to decide. The report looked at the possibility of having 13 NFL games at the Rose Bowl for up to five years, starting in 2013. That matches up with my prediction that a team will make the announcement to move to Los Angeles at the end of the 2012 NFL season.
The Raiders play in an old stadium, the O.co Coliseum, which hosted its first Raider game in 1966. The team shares the stadium with the Oakland A's and I think the Raiders need their own facility and have the fanbase to support it. If they can't get a project approved in Oakland, they should make a deal to move back to Los Angeles.
There are two competing stadium projects here in Los Angeles, the Farmers Field project proposed by AEG for downtown Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Stadium at Grand Crossing, proposed by Majestic Realty for a location in the City of Industry about 40 minutes east of downtown. AEG has already confirmed they've had discussions about moving with the Raiders, along with four other teams.
Although born and raised with Eagles fans in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman has always been a citizen of Raider Nation at heart. Since his dad got him a signed George Blanda football as child, to meeting Lyle Alzado in the 1980s, he hasn't looked back. Follow him on twitter @thefredsherman
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