Downtown L.A. group eyes team; no negotiations with Vikings

  • By Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The front man for one of two Los Angeles-area groups trying to bring the NFL back to the nation's second-largest market believes the city will soon land a team.

L.A. Football Story

Southern California has been the home of many professional football teams, from the L.A. Buccaneers in 1926 (a traveling team that never actually played in Los Angeles) to the XFL champion L.A. Xtreme in 2002. The Avengers were the last active team in L.A., but they folded in 2009.

Teams that have called Southern California home
Years Team League
1926 Los Angeles Buccaneers NFL
1940-45 Los Angeles Bulldogs PCPFL
1940-42 Hollywood Bears PCPFL
1943 Los Angeles Mustangs PCPFL
1944-45 Hollywood Wolves PCPFL
1946-1994 Los Angeles Rams NFL
1946-49 Los Angeles Dons AAFC
1960 Los Angeles Chargers AFL
1967 Long Beach Admirals Continental
1967-68 Orange County Ramblers Continental
1974-75 Southern California Sun WFL
1982-1994 Los Angeles Raiders NFL
1983-85 Los Angeles Express USFL
1988 Los Angeles Cobras Arena
1996-97 Anaheim Piranhas Arena
2000-09 Los Angeles Avengers Arena
2001 Los Angeles Xtreme XFL

But first the league must resolve the labor issue with the players and their union.

AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said his company has "huge admiration" for the NFL and will wait for a new collective-bargaining agreement before focusing on the relocation of an existing franchise.

Leiweke told The Associated Press in a phone interview that his group is focused on a number of initiatives, including a naming-rights deal for the proposed downtown stadium. He said AEG will "worry about the team at the appropriate time."

The NFL hasn't had a team in Los Angeles since the Raiders and Rams left in 1995. Both AEG and Majestic Realty Co. want to build primarily privately financed stadiums and eventually entice a team to move there. Majestic has the necessary approvals to build in Industry, a suburb 15 miles or so from downtown Los Angeles.

For now, these are just plans.

"Nothing is going to happen on either of those projects without a team," Leiweke said.

Leiweke has relationships with several NFL owners -- his brother, Tod, used to be president of the Seattle Seahawks -- and boasted of a "good reputation" that AEG has with the league.

Leiweke declined to speculate about whether or not he believes the NFL will revive the G3 stadium-financing program, which expired when the New York teams used it up to help fund their new stadium. But he said he's confident AEG's plan can come to fruition.

"We wouldn't be sitting here talking about a billion-dollar project if we didn't think the NFL worked in L.A.," Leiweke said.

The Minnesota Vikings are among several NFL teams with unsettled stadium situations, but Leiweke said his conversations with owner Zygi Wilf haven't focused on selling or moving the franchise.

"Zygi made it real clear he'd like to solve his problems there and get a stadium built," Leiweke said. "We do business there, and we're going to be very careful not to do anything to harm the process. So from a personal standpoint, I hope they figure it out."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, during a visit to Minnesota last month, said he "certainly" hopes the Vikings don't move.

"Our focus is entirely on making sure they're successful here in this market," Goodell said then.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press



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