Tags wants maybe two teams in L.A.; NFL to review L.A. sites May 2; NBC's Ebersol supports L.A. move; Saints fans happy about team's return home
Bob Mathews of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle reports that outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is on record as saying he'd like one or two NFL franchises in Los Angeles, adding that expansion is not an option.
The concern is rampant in Buffalo circles that the Bills may be near the top of the list of L.A. candidates. Bills owner Ralph Wilson is voicing his perspective that he's having a tough time competing in such a small market, and that he may need state subsidies to remain competitive. Sound familiar?
With that, Billy Witz of the L.A. Daily News - a highly informed source of the NFL-to-L.A. situation - notes that representatives from the three main stadium sites in the Los Angeles area will make presentations to Tagliabue and a group of 11 NFL owners on May 2 in Dallas.
The primary two candidates, the Coliseum and a new Anaheim location, are set for one hour presentations. A Pasadena rep also will be present to advise as to the status of a lagging-behind Rose Bowl proposal, though it's expected that the real choice will be between the other two sites.
After that, there will be an NFL owners meeting on May 22-23 in Denver. At that meeting, Tagliabue desires to select an official stadium site for a present NFL franchise to inhabit as a new home.
In a different L.A. Daily News article, Witz reports that NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol sees an NFL franchise in Los Angeles as "very, very important."
Ebersol's input is interesting given that NBC just signed on to a substantial broadcasting agreement with the NFL for the Sunday night games this fall. As an aside, the network also has brought aboard perhaps the best game broadcasting group in the league, including John Madden and Al Michaels in the booth and Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis at the network studio.
Witz further notes that the central candidates for relocation to L.A. include the Bills, Jaguars, Vikings, Chargers, and...the Saints.
Tagliabue, of course, has been extremely supportive of keeping the Saints in New Orleans. In fact, if it weren't for him, Tom Benson would have moved them to San Antonio last fall after Katrina.
Now, with Tagliabue on the precipice of retirement, and with two stated commitments - keeping the Saints in New Orleans, and getting at least one team to Los Angeles - on the table, one can only wonder how (and if) the two are intertwined.
Without any doubt, ticket sales and attendance this fall will be crucial to the Saints' future in New Orleans. But three other considerations will have to be (1) availability of corporate sponsorships, (2) success of rebuilding New Orleans, and (3) whether another catastrophic hurricane hits southeast Louisiana this summer. Between lack of support, failure to rebuild or garner much business support, or destruction inflicted by another large-scale hurricane, any of those could be enough for Tommy Boy (or Rita Girl) to pack the team up and move to the west coast.
The only thing we can do at this point is wait, watch, and hope the Saints don't botch the draft. (I predict a foundation for success will be built with the Saints' first pick, starting with a large Brick...)
THANKS FROM SAINTS FANS FOR RETURN HOME
An article by Glenn Guilbeau voiced the sentiments of several Saints fans who were overjoyed by the team's return to Metairie. Some choice quotes from Guilbeau's article:
"I really appreciate what Mr. Tagliabue has done. He did so much for this city in keeping the team here. I really feel his retirement could hurt the city. I'm still wary of Mr. Benson. Most of the blame for what happened after the hurricane I would put on Tom Benson."------
"If Tom Benson is willing to come back, I'm willing to meet him halfway."
"It's great to have the team back, especially because I didn't think they would be back."
"The fan base is coming back and coming back strong."
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