Why wouldn't the Saints move to L.A.?
Question: I can't see the Saints returning to New Orleans - so why wouldn't the league put them in L.A.?
Answer: Why wouldn't they? I honestly cannot think of any reason why they wouldn't at this point. Not one.
Tragic as it is, New Orleans is no longer an option. That leaves just two places - San Antonio and Los Angeles. Without getting lengthy, here's four reasons off the top of my head:
1. We know the NFL has taken great strides toward getting that desired franchise in L.A. It has not done so in San Antonio.
2. An NFL franchise move from New Orleans to San Antonio would not create nearly the wealth (in terms of gains in media market) across the board for the league and its owners than would a move to L.A.
3. The Alamodome is not a short-term (2-3 years) solution for the NFL like the Coliseum is.
4. With the above three in mind, NFL owners will not approve a move to San Antonio over L.A.
The NFL will have a team in L.A. within the next three years. It has dedicated far too much work and lip service to stray from that stated path.
Given that, if the league doesn't move the Saints there, it will take another team from another city to fill the L.A. void. That would create bad blood with that city's fans. In an effort to not sound too harsh, New Orleans' fan base has been drastically diminished (and don't forget the meager season ticket sales for this season in the 30,000 range), and the team is off many people's maps in terms of reconstruction of the city. Couple that with the fact that New Orleans no longer can physically maintain a franchise, and the only alternative is to move the team. No other franchise has such problems.
Thus, the league would be "doing what it must" in moving the Saints to L.A., which helps it stay on top of the normally-difficult PR battle in terms of relocation.
(As an aside, that's why I think Tom Benson came out today and announced he wants to play all home games at LSU's Tiger Stadium if possible. They don't want to tear the Saints away from New Orleanians in the midst of Katrina. It allows Benson and the league to say, hey, we did the best we could. Next season, because it's a business, we have to move on. And, for the record, I don't buy Benson's Red Stick Sentiment for a second. A high-ranking team official told local media that Benson was refusing season ticket holder refunds for the 2005 season, likely in an effort to burn the bridges and move the team to San Antonio permanently. PR savvy, Benson ain't. Of course, that all has changed with the undercurrent of anger.)
Besides, who else is there? I just don't see the Vikings leaving Minneapolis, the Colts leaving Indy, the Bills leaving Buffalo or the Chiefs leaving KC. I think the Chargers also are safe given New Orleans' situation. The NFL's top Super Bowl sites historically have been New Orleans, Miami, and San Diego. I can't see the league eliminating two of those three within the next three years. There has been some rumbling that Jacksonville's Jaguars are in trouble, but I can't see them moving in the near future either. They just hosted a Super Bowl last February, and if the NFL was to voluntarily cut and run from Jacksonville so shortly after the big game was there, that would diminish the Super Bowl as a selling point to other cities that might be in a position to consider future NFL teams.
Expansion in the NFL at this point is not a likely option, since that would result in 33 teams - not a good scheduling strategy in a league with eight four-team divisions.
And, one final thought - The NFL's last expansion team was in Houston. Why move another franchise three hours away?
So the only choice, and the best fit, is the Saints and the City of Angels.
And it's only fitting. Think about it. In the very first Saints game, New Orleans lost to Los Angeles.
That's how the franchise started, and the way things look now, that's how the franchise will close its run in New Orleans.
Here's another Q&A from the Washington Times, this one between WDSU reporter Fletcher Mackel and Saints running back Deuce McAllister:
Q (Mackel): Have the Saints played their last game in New Orleans?
A (McAllister): I don't know. Nothing would surprise me.