NFL, Coliseum reach agreement on return to L.A.; San Antonio likely out; Benson's days numbered?
The announcement, which has been expected by this site for months now given all the behind-the-scenes action that has taken place, will be sure to put a damper on brewing enthusiasm about prospects of Terry Bradshaw purchasing the Saints to keep them in New Orleans.
(This evening, anchors at one station in Lafayette, Louisiana, were even willing to pony up some dough to help T.B. out. They're probably not alone. But I digress...)
It also effectively puts a halt to any NFL discussions for San Antonio.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was quoted in this AP article as saying, "I think the critical thing now is we're at the point where it's recognized, certainly by us, that the time is right."
As this site has chronicled, this announcement has been poised to take place this fall for quite some time now, even before Katrina made landfall. (Read here and here for more.) Remember, the NFL's opening night featured a concert from the Coliseum, and ads for Super Bowl XL also feature the Coliseum as a backdrop. That wasn't a coincidence.
A Los Angeles city councilman, Bernard Parks, also was quoted in the story as voicing his belief that the Coliseum will play host to a relocated, presently existing team, adding, "The NFL is going to have a say on who's going to come here. The Coliseum has no role in selecting a team."
The prime candidate for relocation right now is, without any doubt, the Saints.
Coliseum and city officials have come out against openly campaigning for the Saints to relocate there (a la San Antonio), instead leaving such a move up to the NFL.
Which dovetails with this thought: While Tagliabue has said that the Saints relocating to L.A. was "nonsensical," he also has qualified any statements regarding the Saints' possibilities of remaining in New Orleans with comments about the economic re-development of the city as a determining factor.
Thus, the stage is set. Either New Orleans is rebuilt to the NFL's satisfaction and the team stays there, or it is not, and the team goes to the Coliseum.
(San Antonio, you're out of the picture. Enjoy that Saints-Lions game in December.)
Another repercussion from today's news is that, from this writer's perspective, Tom Benson's days as an NFL owner are numbered.
Officials have said before that it would be highly preferred that a new group of investors purchase any team making a move to Los Angeles. That would especially be so if the Saints are in the fold, since L.A. won't put up with Benson's childish antics.
The alternative is New Orleans, which has had more than enough of Benson to support him if he does return with his team. That's not good for ticket and merchandise sales, nor is it good for the NFL.
More to come on this tomorrow...
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