Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:26 am

Chargers won't move if new stadium isn't in works

Farmers FieldPosted by Josh Katzowitz

It seems relatively clear that if a new team winds up in Los Angeles to play at the new downtown complex that will include Farmers Field, it very well could be the San Diego Chargers.

When I talked to legendary San Diego Union-Tribune scribe Jerry Magee recently, he said the city was worried, and aside from perhaps the Vikings, the Chargers returning home to their original city (the Chargers were established in L.A. in 1960) seemed like a pretty good bet.

But according to ESPN.com, the move not be that easy -- or that close to actually happening. Chargers special council Mark Fabiani said the team would not consider a move to a temporary spot in a new city if that city also wasn’t in the process of building a permanent new stadium. He’s not sure Farmers Field qualifies.

"I think the downtown L.A. project is years away," Fabiani told ESPN.com. "I think it would be a miracle like the loaves and the fishes if they could [break ground next year]."

New Stadium in L.A.?
AEG president Tim Leiweke has previously said he would like to break ground on the new stadium by next June and open it by September 2016. Meanwhile the city of San Diego is trying to build a new Chargers home of its own, a retractable stadium downtown.

The problem(s) with that scenario: how to finance the project in San Diego, and could the city’s voters get behind a new project that likely would keep the Chargers in town? That obviously is not an issue with AEG and L.A., which has plenty of money and support (if not from football fans in L.A., it’s got tons of it from the league office). And Fabiani is not clueless about the potential fallout of that equation. If a new stadium isn’t built, Fabiani knows there might not be much hope of keeping the Chargers in San Diego.

"I think if we didn't make the ballot in 2012 we would have to seriously look at our other options," he said. "I don't think there's any way to avoid saying that to people."

Which ultimately shouldn’t make the people of San Diego feel any better. Because even if the Chargers aren’t in danger of leaving San Diego within the next year, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen eventually.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 9:22 pm

Vikings still on track not to move to L.A.

Farmer's FieldPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While meeting Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to approve a new $1.5 billion downtown stadium. Which was an unsurprising step, yet a step that makes the realization of football in L.A. a little bit closer (not to mention, the loss of one of the NFL’s 32 current franchises).

Which means if you’re a fan of those five teams that supposedly were talking to the AEG group -- that was the Chargers, the Jaguars, the Raiders, the Vikings and the Rams -- perhaps you’re freaking out a bit at this news.

Well, Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf is here to ease your mind if you follow the Vikings. Wilf said Wednesday, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that a new stadium in the Minneapolis area has “momentum.”

Which should be nice to hear for Vikings fans, considering the team DID meet with AEG in May to discuss the possibility of moving the team from Minnesota to sunny California.

Wilf talked to reporters today after meeting with nearly 20 Ramsey County officials on the field during morning practice. Wilf also revealed he met last week with Minnesota governor Mark Dayton to continue figuring out how to try to fund the new stadium that will be erected in the Arden Hills area.

The Vikings and L.A.
The problem is the state legislature had a chance to approve a deal during a special session (originally, the deal was the state would put in $300 million, Ramsey County would add $350 million, and the Vikings would pay $407 million -- which would leave the project about $100 million short), and the legislative body failed to do so.

Dayton, though, could call another special session for the fall in order to get a deal done. If that’s the case, the Vikings will almost assuredly stay in Minnesota.

But if not and the Vikings can’t get the funding they need, perhaps they’ll move into the cross-hairs of AEG -- a position currently occupied by the Chargers.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 14, 2011 8:05 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 8:17 pm

Jax owner says his team is staying put

Wayne Weaver said his team will remain in Jacksonville (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With so much talk about AEG and which teams across the NFL that it’s targeting for relocation to Los Angeles, there are only really a few organizations that are truly in danger.

The Chargers are one, for sure. Maybe the Raiders, and depending on what happens with the Minnesota voters and their desire to partially fund a new stadium, perhaps the Vikings.

But if Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has anything to say about it – and since he’s the owner, he absolutely does – Jacksonville doesn’t have to worry about losing its NFL franchise.

“I have no interest [in Los Angeles],” Weaver told the Florida Times-Union today. “I have been consistent in saying I am committed to Jacksonville and have no interest [in moving].”

Two years ago, the Jaguars perhaps would have been a fine candidate to leave, but last season, none of their home games were blacked out. With the lockout, though, ticket sales have slowed again. But if Jacksonville fans were worried, they can breathe a sigh of relief at Weaver’s latest proclamation.

“We have to work hard and be more creative because we’re in a small market in a difficult economy with high unemployment rates and a housing crisis that is more difficult than in other cities,” Weaver said.

And the team will have to be the one to solve those problems, because, as Weaver says, the Jaguars are going to stay in its small market instead of moving to one of the biggest in the country.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 4:48 pm

Report: AEG is targeting MORE than five teams

This is how developers envision what Farmers Field would look like (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Last week, we told you how AEG had targeted five NFL teams for possible relocation to Los Angeles – the Chargers, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams and Vikings.

Now, NFL.com has the news that AEG actually is targeting even more teams than that and that those teams are receiving monthly briefings detailing the progress of the downtown stadium (which will be named Farmers Field, as seen in the photo at right) and the surrounding area.

More from the story:

The next milestone for the Farmers Field effort comes on July 31, when AEG is expected to turn in a memorandum of understanding with the city council, which will outline a financing plan to build the stadium. AEG has committed $1 billion for the project, and is looking for $350 million in bonds from the city that would be repaid through new revenue created by the stadium, including the grounds lease and self-imposed seat and parking taxes.

The stadium will take approximately 30 months to build on the current site of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The city has insisted that the proposed Pico Hall -- which would replace the West Hall -- be up and running before the West Hall is torn down to make way for Farmers Field, so the city won't lose convention business.

Like I wrote the other day, if I’m a Chargers fan, I’m feeling awfully nervous that L.A. is going to snatch my team away. And the more teams in the running for possible relocation is probably welcome news.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: August 22, 2011 10:02 am

L.A. group has talked to five teams (POLL)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

All along, it’s been assumed that if AEG in Los Angeles – desperately trying to entice a team to L.A. – succeeded, it’d come at the expense of the Chargers

But in this Orange County Register report, AEG president Tim Leiweke says the group actually has been in talks with five teams in order to convince them to move to downtown Los Angeles. AEG is short for Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns or controls sports and entertainment properties around the world.

Those teams include the Chargers, the Jaguars, the Raiders, the Vikings and the Rams.

Most of those potential franchise moves wouldn’t be a huge surprise (especially San Diego and Minnesota, which most likely will keep the Vikings in a Minneapolis suburb but has talked to AEG within the past week – Jacksonville, meanwhile, seems to have stymied much of that relocation talk), but a potential move by the St. Louis franchise is something that hasn’t been discussed much lately (if at all).

More from the Register:

“St. Louis, Jacksonville, not extensively, certainly Oakland, San Diego, Minnesota are still in the mix," Leiweke said listing the teams AEG has met with before adding: "We're not packing any (moving) vans right now."

Leiweke also said AEG is prepared to pay the cost of for an NFL franchise to get out of a current lease so as to relocate to Los Angeles.

"Just as an example, if it's San Diego, they would have to pay $24 million under their agreement to get out of the lease," Leiweke said. "We would pay that."

AEG has been aggressive in trying to track down a team, and eventually, it probably will succeed. A couple weeks ago, I spoke with long-time Chargers beat writer Jerry Magee (now retired from the San Diego Union Tribune), and he said fans in San Diego were worried about the team moving a few hours up the coast.

I can’t say I blame them. They’re right to be worried. Because AEG means business. And eventually, the group will find somebody willing to relocate.

UPDATE (3:21 p.m. ET): If you have an opinion (or a guess) about which of those five squads could end up in L.A., take the CBSSports.com poll on our Facebook page.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 8:28 pm

Vikings executives meet with L.A. stadium group

Posted by Andy Benoit

Interesting nugget from Charley Walters in the Pioneer Press Thursday:

“Spotted at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday night were members of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's management and stadium development team meeting with L.A. Live honcho Tim Leiweke and his AEG team that is considering a stadium for Los Angeles.”

Wow. The Vikings are currently in negotiations with local government officials about funding for a new stadium in Arden Hills. There's a hang-up due to the state’s budget deficit and figuring out how to cover the bill for some $100 million worth of costs in road upgrades near the proposed site for the team’s new Minnesota stadium. The Vikings’ lease in the Metrodome runs out after 2011.

The stadium efforts in Los Angeles, meanwhile, are moving along well. The AEG group is leading a $2.5 billion project for a sports and entertainment complex.

Lester Bagley, a leading player in the Minnesota stadium efforts, says the meeting Tuesday was merely to pick AEG’s brains about building new stadiums. “The discussion about Los Angeles was about L.A. Live, that sports entertainment model that they created there. We’re trying to re-create that type of energy at the Arden Hills development if we can.”

Go ahead and put this one in the “Keep a Close Eye On” file.

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Category: NFL
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