PHOENIX – While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put a happy face on the news that Phil Anschutz has decided to keep AEG and continue plans to build a stadium in downtown Los Angeles, five other league and/or team sources continued to look dimly at the idea.
And even more so on the NFL's preferred destination of Dodger Stadium.
On Monday, Goodell thrice said the move by Anschutz to pull AEG from the market was "positive" and said the league looks "forward to reengaging with them and see if we can get something done."
Goodell also called the Dodger Stadium site in Los Angeles' Chavez Ravine a viable alternative for the league, which hopes to someday return to the city. The NFL hasn't had a team in Los Angeles since both the Rams and the Raiders left after the 1994 season.
Likewise, New York Giants owner John Mara said it was possible, albeit difficult, to create a deal where both AEG and an NFL team could profit sufficiently from the downtown stadium proposed at L.A. Live the company is proposing.
"Is it easy? No, but it can be done," Mara said. "The questions are, what is the public willing to put in; what kind of money can you make off the [Personal Seat Licensing agreements]; what is the owner of the facility looking for?"
This is where the positives and negatives of Anschutz make a deal possible. From a positive standpoint, Anschutz is believed to have the type of deep pockets (he has an estimated worth of $10 billion, according to Forbes) that allow him to both buy a team and build a stadium. Anschutz is a powerful dealmaker in the sports and entertainment industry who rubs elbows with the likes of NFL owners Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones.
"I think it is a positive that Phil Anschutz is reengaging," said Goodell, who traveled to meet Anschutz in December 2011 to encourage Anschutz to create a better deal for an NFL team. "He seems that he would like to get a stadium built in Los Angeles that would be suitable for an NFL team. We look forward to working on that. As you know because of the sales process, that's probably crippled any discussions for several months, but we look forward to reengaging with them and see if we can get something done."
From a negative perspective, Anschutz has shown little interest in owning an NFL team and his offers to teams interested in relocating to Los Angeles have been seen as unworkable.
Or as a person who knows the details of Anschutz's offer said: "Nobody in that room [the board room full of owners] is stupid enough to take the deal [Anschutz is] offering."
The problem is simple. Between the $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion it's estimated that a downtown stadium will cost to build and any profit that Anschutz would want to make on the stadium, there may not be enough profit left to make a deal palatable to a team.
"That's the problem," a team executive said. "If the numbers worked, somebody would have taken the deal already."
Another team source said there were other issues beyond money.
"If you really look at the site, it's sexy and interesting down there by Staples [Center], but there's no place for tailgating," the second team source said. "Fans want to have tailgating. That's a big part of the experience."
As for Chavez Ravine, the NFL has spoken with the Guggenheim Partners, the company that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. Guggenheim has internally discussed moving the Dodgers to a new stadium at the downtown site that AEG is proposing and then allowing an NFL team to build a stadium at the Dodger Stadium site, according to sources and other published reports. It has also considered allowing an NFL team to build a stadium next to Dodger Stadium.
The problem is that the parking lots around Dodger Stadium are still partly owned by former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. McCourt once tried to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but didn't qualify under NFL standards.
McCourt's litigious side and hard-line negotiating tactics are not palatable to some NFL types.
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