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The National Football League had multiple professional American football teams in Los Angeles, Californiamarker between 1946 and 1994. Los Angeles is the second-largest media market in the United Statesmarker. All the teams originally played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker.

In 1946, the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference started play, lasting four years before folding with the demise of the AAFC. Also in 1946, the Cleveland Rams became the first National Football League (NFL) franchise to locate in Los Angeles. The Rams moved to Anaheim Stadiummarker for 1980, and left southern California altogether in 1995 for St. Louismarker. The AFL founded the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 but moved to San Diego the next year. The Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982, only to return to Oakland after the 1994 season. There were problems with the filling all of the 90,000-plus seats in the Coliseum to avoid a television blackout in the Los Angeles area.

The lack of an NFL team in Los Angeles is an issue the league and the city have been working on to resolve since the Raiders left. One key sticking point had been whether the Coliseum should be the primary venue for a new team, or whether a lower capacity NFL-specific stadium should be built in the area. In November 2007, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the policy of requiring the NFL to relocate to the Coliseum will change and other options will be explored.

There have been other professional football teams in the city, including PCPFL teams during World War II, XFL, USFL, and WFL.

The early years

The first NFL team to name itself after the city of Los Angeles was the Los Angeles Buccaneers in . However, this team never played in Los Angeles; it was a road team made up of Californians, primarily University of California and University of Southern Californiamarker alumni.

The NFL All Star game and Pro Bowl

The NFL did play its first league All-Star Games (which later became known as the Pro Bowl) in Los Angeles. L.A.'s Wrigley Fieldmarker hosted the first All-Star Game after the 1938 season. Gilmore Stadiummarker in Los Angeles hosted the 1939 and 1940 All-Star Games following the respective NFL seasons.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker was the site of the Pro Bowl from 1950 through 1972. The 1979 Pro Bowl was also held at the Coliseum. In 1980, the Pro Bowl moved to Aloha Stadiummarker on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

NFL Franchises in Los Angeles 1946–1994

The Rams

In , the defending NFL champions, the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles. The Rams played home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker, which had originally been built to host the 1932 Summer Olympic Games and which was also the home of the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins. The Rams made history their first season in 1946, when they signed the NFL's first African-American players since the early 1930s: former UCLA stars Kenny Washington and Woody Strode.

Also in 1946, the upstart All-America Football Conference began play: the AAFC's Los Angeles Dons also played at the Coliseum. When the AAFC folded in 1950, the Dons went out of business, but the AAFC's San Francisco 49ers were admitted to the NFL. This provided the NFL with a workable pair of West Coast cities for travel.

Another AAFC franchise which moved over to the NFL was the Cleveland Browns, who were based in the city the Rams had deserted. The Browns and the Rams met in the 1950 NFL Championship game: the Browns won the game 30-28.

The Rams quickly became established as an NFL power, with top quarterbacks like Roman Gabriel and the legendary Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s.

Rams move to Anaheim

By 1979 the Rams were a successful franchise, and made it to their first Super Bowl that year. However, they had long been dissatisfied with the L.A. Coliseum, due to its size (the cavernous venue sold out very infrequently, causing blackouts of Rams games on local TV), its location (in South Central Los Angelesmarker, perceived to be one of the city's more dangerous neighborhoods), and its lack of nearby parking. At various times they shared the stadium with both the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins football teams. Ownership (Carroll Rosenbloom, followed by his widow Georgia Frontiere) was unable to persuade the city to build a new stadium in Los Angeles, so they decided to move out of the Coliseum to Anaheimmarker (28 miles southeast of downtown L.A.) in Orange Countymarker, which was then experiencing an enormous boom in population and construction.

Beginning in 1980, the Rams played in Anaheim Stadiummarker, which already had a football press box built into the upper deck when it opened in 1966. Further renovations included enclosing the facility by extending the stadium's three decks (the baseball outfield area had previously been open to the outside), and building luxury suites in the mezzanine "club" level.

Three teams had previously played home games in Anaheim Stadium prior to the Rams' move: the Southern California Sun of the World Football League and the now-defunct football programs at Cal State Fullertonmarker and Long Beach Statemarker. During the Rams' stay in Anaheim, they were the stadium's sole football tenant and shared it with the California Angels baseball team.

Rams move to St. Louis

Rams owner Georgia Frontiere began to shop around for a new home for her team, which was falling behind other NFL teams in luxury-box and other non-shared revenue. By the end of the season, talks had begun with St. Louismarker and Baltimoremarker; meanwhile, she was hoping that Anaheimmarker and/or Orange Countymarker would also make an attractive offer. Anaheim, going through a recession, could not agree on a tax package to pay for the improvements that Frontiere insisted on, so they dropped out of the bidding. Rams fans, bothered by Frontiere talking to other cities about moving the franchise, voiced their anger by asking for her to sell the team, booing her and starting derogatory chants at games directed at her. Attendance began dwindling, due to frustration by the fans over ownership and the performance by the team on the field. Eventually, St. Louis gave Frontiere the offer she wanted, a brand-new $280 million domed stadium called the "Trans World Dome" (currently the Edward Jones Domemarker) with a long-term lease and over 100 luxury boxes. The move was announced in February 1995 and approved by NFL owners that April. The Rams played their last game as the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Eve 1994, losing 24-21 to the Washington Redskins in front of only 25,750 fans in attendance at Anaheim Stadium. During the 2009 off season, following Frontiere's death, it was announced the Rams were for sale. It is possible the next owner of the Rams could potentially move the team back to Los Angeles.

The Raiders

The Coliseum next received an NFL team in , when the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles to become the Los Angeles Raiders. Team owner Al Davis relocated there without the approval of his fellow owners or NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. One major factor for Davis in moving to the Coliseum despite its flaws as a football stadium was his assumption that the NFL would eventually approve pay-per-view telecasts for its games; such a move would potentially have given the Raiders a virtual TV monopoly in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest TV market. Davis also counted on being able to persuade the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission to renovate the facility, particularly by installing scores of luxury boxes.

The Raiders continued the success they had in Oakland after the move south, winning Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984 and reaching the AFC Championship Game after the season. But the team gained a controversial reputation off the field, as its silver and black colors became associated with L.A.'s notorious street gangs. More importantly, the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission never gave Davis the lucrative package of amenities he had been promised. Davis entertained an offer from Irwindale, Californiamarker (east of downtown L.A.) in , but did not move there.

Prior to 1993, the Coliseum Commission approved multiple changes to enhance the stadium as a football facility: Capacity was reduced, the field was lowered, the surrounding running track was removed, bleachers were replaced by single seats, and locker rooms and fan restrooms were upgraded.

The Coliseum briefly fielded another professional football team, the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League, from 1983 to 1985. The league played in the springtime, avoiding stadium conflicts with the NFL and the Raiders.

Raiders return to Oakland

Due in no small part to the decision by the Los Angeles Sports Commission to halt further planned renovations to Memorial Coliseum due to repair costs generated by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Al Davis gave up on Los Angeles, and decided to accept a new stadium renovation offer from Oakland, Californiamarker and to return to his team's former home. The renovation expanded the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker to 63,000 seats and added 86 luxury boxes and thousands of club seats. The deal was announced on June 23, and approved by league owners on August 9 of that year. The Raiders, like the Rams, played their last game in L.A. on Christmas Eve 1994, losing 19-9 to the Kansas City Chiefs in front of 64,130 in attendance at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

AFL franchise in Los Angeles

The Chargers

In , the American Football League (AFL) was formed. The now-San Diego Chargers played their first season in Los Angeles, but moved to San Diegomarker in 1961.

The Super Bowl in and around Los Angeles

The first Super Bowl, known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, and later Super Bowl I was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967, following the AFL-NFL merger. The Coliseum also hosted Super Bowl VII.

The Rose Bowlmarker in Pasadenamarker also has hosted Super Bowls XI, XIV, XVII, XXI, and XXVII.

Since 1995: Major developments

Within months of the moves of the Rams and Raiders, several NFL teams were rumored to be replacements. They included the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Seattle Seahawks. However, the Browns moved to become the Baltimore Ravens in and a new Browns team occupied a new stadiummarker in . The Bengals, Buccaneers and Seahawks, meanwhile, used L.A.'s vacancy as leverage to convince their cities to help finance new stadiums.

Other developments have included:
  • In 1996, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley offered land near Dodger Stadiummarker for a new football stadium. However, O'Malley was persuaded to drop the proposal in in favor of supporting the Coliseum plan.
  • In March 1996, Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring moved office equipment and some athletic gear to the elementary school in Anaheim that once held Rams practices, hoping to get approval for a permanent move to southern California. Because of an owners' revolt, Behring halted the process and moved the equipment back to Seattlemarker. Eventually, Paul Allen bought the team and kept it in Seattle by building Seahawks Stadiummarker, now known as Qwest Field.
  • Perhaps the closest Los Angeles has come to regaining the NFL was in 1999, when the NFL approved a new franchise, the league's 32nd, for Los Angeles, on the condition that the city and NFL agree on a stadium site and stadium financing. Those agreements were never reached, and in October 1999, the franchise was awarded to a Houstonmarker ownership group instead, which formed the Houston Texans.
  • In , a proposal was floated for a new stadium near Staples Centermarker. The stadium and team would have been owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz and Hollywood scion Casey Wasserman, and the stadium would have been built with private funding. That died down quickly when it failed to get the support of the city council. In particular, Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes the Coliseum, never supported it.
  • In , reports circulated that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay visited Southern California, presumably for meetings with local officials on moving his team to Los Angeles. Irsay never confirmed nor denied those reports, and the Colts later reached a deal for a new stadiummarker in Indianapolismarker.
  • As recently as 2005, current Dodgers owner Frank McCourt showed interest in a similar plan to Peter O'Malley's in which a new NFL stadium would be built in Chavez Ravine next to Dodger Stadium. However, like O'Malley, McCourt was accosted by city officials who expressed their displeasure with his idea in mere part to their favoritism of the repeatedly defunct Coliseum plan. McCourt merely states that his idea is suitable if the most recent Coliseum plan were to fail. In addition, the NFL is also rumored to favor the Dodger Stadium proposal to the countless Coliseum ideas in the past.
  • On November 7, 2006, voters in an upper class part of Pasadenamarker overwhelmingly rejected a financing package that would have allocated money for a renovation of the Rose Bowlmarker that would have accommodated an NFL team in fear of greatly increased traffic. The vote was 72 percent against, versus 28 percent in support. Two days later, the San Francisco 49ers broke off talks with the city of San Franciscomarker on a new stadium at Candlestick Pointmarker and began negotiations with suburban Santa Claramarker, where they hope to build a new stadium to open by 2012. However, many details remained unresolved, and at least one person quoted in an article in the Los Angeles Times said that L.A. could still be a possibility for the 49ers.. But the following day, the 49ers reopened talks with San Francisco under pressure from United States Senator Dianne Feinstein and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (both San Franciscans, the latter also being Member of Congress for most of the city of San Francisco).
  • In April 2008, Developer Edward P. Roski Jr., a part owner of the Kings and Lakers, has proposed a stadium in the City of Industrymarker.
  • In June 2008, reports surfaced that The City of Industrymarker could become the home of the 49ers or Raiders by as early as 2010 when both teams' stadium leases expire. Other teams mentioned include San Diego, Minnesota, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Buffalo, and St. Louis.
  • In November 2008, Beverly Hills real estate mogul Richard Rand unveiled preliminary plans to build an NFL stadium in Carson, about ten miles south of Downtown Los Angeles. This is a different proposal than the one Michael Ovitz backed in Carson in 1999. It is unknown if he is competing with Roski's stadium proposal in Industry or with L.A.'s market size and talks of the city getting two teams, he hopes to get one of the two teams.


Neither the Rams nor Raiders sold out many games while playing in the L.A. area, where they were expected to sell 90,000 tickets a game for Rams and Raiders teams at the Coliseum. Those games were blacked out in accord with the NFL's "72-hour rule." The Raiders have since struggled to sell out games in Oakland while the Rams were able to get a deal to return to owner Georgia Frontiere's hometown of St. Louis where they were guaranteed sellout revenues. However, since about 2006 the Rams have been struggling to sell out games in St. Louis. The Raiders owner Al Davis has since grown frustrated with Oakland city officials for allegedly duping them into packing their bags in 1994 and has sued the city multiple times. He also claims that the NFL had interfered with his negotiations to build a new stadium in Hollywood Park and subsequently forced the Raiders to take Oakland's offer in a lawsuit that was just recently settled in favor of the league. Davis still states that the rights to the L.A. market belong to him and has tried to interfere with attempts to put a new team there by lamenting his desire to still play there and that if he does not that he should be compensated for the fee the league charged him when he moved there. Joe McDonnell, a long-time voice on local radio, laments often that local children cannot see a "home team" play, nor can they use the players as role models and unofficial community leaders.

In a September 1995 article in the Los Angeles Times, a parking-lot attendant claimed to have lost thousands of dollars per weekend because the Raiders no longer played in the Coliseum. Such businesses in the area would not partially recover until Staples Centermarker was built in 1999.

Los Angeles as a bargaining chip

Cynics also claim that the National Football League teams do not truly want an NFL franchise in Los Angeles, as it would remove the threat of actually moving an existing team to Los Angeles, a major bargaining chip in negotiations for new stadiums, which are otherwise unpalatable due to the cost of such stadiums often exceeding the values of the franchises themselves. Los Angeles is, by far, the most viable candidate for relocation; the only other city that has drawn comparable interest is Toronto, and most of the Toronto speculation is specifically centered on the Buffalo Bills.

Proposed stadiums

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has championed a new football stadium in Anaheim in tandem with a new L.A. Coliseum. There are reports, however, that NFL owners will not approve a return to the L.A. area until two teams commit to play in a single new stadium (similar to the New York Giants and New York Jets, first in Giants Stadiummarker and from 2010 in the new Meadowlands Stadiummarker). Due to worldwide increases in the prices of steel, concrete and fuel some cost estimates for new stadiums have exceeded $1 billion. As a result, it will be difficult for the league to privately finance one stadium, let alone two. In response to rising cost estimates for a new stadium, new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that returning the NFL to Los Angeles will require the league to consider unspecified "alternative solutions." Some observers, however, dispute the $1 billion figure.

Other than Los Angeles, the NFL has returned to every city it vacated in the modern era (Oaklandmarker, Baltimoremarker, St. Louismarker, Clevelandmarker and Houstonmarker). The 2009 NFL season was L.A.'s 15th year with no franchise, thus eclipsing Oakland for the longest duration in the modern era that a former NFL city has lacked a franchise.

Coliseum renovation

A renovated Coliseum would seat 65,000 for most major events, expanding to about 80,000 for Super Bowls and University of Southern Californiamarker home games. The Coliseum would retain the peristyle section and columns that are part of the current stadium, in a design similar to Soldier Fieldmarker in Chicagomarker. This stadium is supported by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Los Angeles City Council approved a preliminary financing plan and environmental impact report in 2006. But the Exposition Park area still carries safety concerns among some fans.

In October 2006, a new doubt was cast over the Coliseum's future as a possible venue, as reports surfaced that the Coliseum Commission was negotiating to hand over control of the stadium to the University of Southern California, which could preclude any plans to renovate the stadium for the NFL. Pat Lynch, the Coliseum's general manager, claimed in a panel discussion in December 2006 that the true cost of a new Coliseum would be closer to $650 million. In December 2007, talks between USC and the Coliseum Commission broke down and the USC Athlectic department made public their threat to leave. In February 2008 the Coliseum Commission and USC came to a tentative agreement that would keep USC Trojan football in place for the next 25 years with an option for a total of 47 years. The agreement would require the Commission to pay for upgrades including replacement of the seats, field, drainage system, and the fence around the stadium. In addition to the basic improvements the deal would see upgrades to the sound and lighting systems, new elevators and escalators, new videoboards and scoreboards, new restrooms and concession areas. In return, the USC will agree to pay the equivalent of 8% of all gross ticket sales for home games and 50% of all game day expenses that the stadium incurs. In addition, USC will pay the Commission 8% of all revenue from television broadcasts from games where fewer than 70,000 people are in attendance. The deal also includes a right of consent for USC for any amateur or professional team seeking permission to play in the Coliseum. The Commission and the Trojans will cooperate to find a naming-rights sponsor for the Coliseum. USC will also receive a seat on the Coliseum Commission for as long as the school remains at the stadium.

Anaheim stadium site

A stadium site in Anaheim has been proposed on and off over the last decade. The latest plan is for a 60,000-to-70,000-seat stadium located adjacent to the Rams' old home, Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium of Anaheimmarker). Those stadiums, as well as the Honda Centermarker (formerly Arrowhead Pond), apartments, shops, and restaurants, would be part of a "Platinum Triangle" development.

Carson site

A 70,000-seat stadium was proposed for Carsonmarker, on a site bordered by Interstates 110 and 405. The stadium and team would have been owned by Hollywood executive Michael Ovitz. But the site is full of toxins and other environmental problems, and eventually for that reason, as well as a failure of Carson to approve a financing plan, it was abandoned. The latest plans are to build The Boulevards at South Bay (formerly Avalon at South Bay and Carson Marketplace), a mixed-use development which will include homes, apartments, a 200-room hotel, and a retail power center. Construction is contingent on an extensive cleanup of the site, which as of spring 2009 was continuing. Developers hope to open at least part of the site in 2011. Carson does have a sports complex, The Home Depot Centermarker, on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hillsmarker.

Dodger Stadium site

The Dodger Stadiummarker parking lot has been discussed by NFL owners, in private, as possibly being the best site in Southern California to build a new professional football stadium. Officials with the Dodgers and the NFL met in secret twice in 2005 to discuss the possibility of constructing a stadium and retail complex adjacent to Dodger Stadium. After the Boston Herald reported the details of the plan, political pressure forced both the NFL and McCourts to deny that either party was aggressively pursuing the idea.

City of Industry

Edward P. Roski, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings, has announced plans for a new stadium on the northern side of the interchange of State Routes 57 and 60 (almost east of downtown LA) with the purpose of attracting a team to the Los Angeles region. Roski, who built the Staples Centermarker, stated that the new 75,000 seat stadium would be privately financed and would be the centerpiece of a new entertainment complex in the City of Industrymarker.

Pro football activity in L.A. since 1995

  • The Los Angeles Avengers were a member of the Arena Football League from 2000 to 2009, when the league suspended operations.
  • The Los Angeles Xtreme won the only championship in the brief history of the XFL, in 2001.
  • A United Football League franchise is scheduled to begin full-time play in Los Angeles in 2010; a "home game" was scheduled to be played by the league's Las Vegas franchise in the metro area in 2009, but the game was moved back to Vegas.
  • The NFL has maintained a limited presence in the market. NFL Network, the in-house cable and satellite network founded in 2003, is headquartered in nearby Culver Citymarker and players often visit its studio, especially in the offseason.
  • The NFL Players Association's "Rookie Premiere," in which first-year athletes pose for trading card pictures, is held annually at the Coliseum. The Coliseum also staged part of the league's opening-weekend celebrations in 2005.
  • The annual spring meeting of the NFL owners, where new rules are voted on and other issues are talked about, is usually held in the Los Angeles area in March.
  • Los Angeles is prepared to have a franchise in the relaunch of the USFL.

See also


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