Another NFL Season, Another Year LA Is Without A Team

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For the 19th consecutive season, the country's second-largest sports and media market will be relegated to watching. It's been nearly two decades since LA had an NFL team, but that may be changing.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That brings us to today's last word in Business, which is, remember the Rams - the LA Rams? The National Football League begins another season later this week. And for the 19th consecutive season, the country's second-largest sports and media market, Los Angeles, is watching from the sidelines. It's been nearly two decades since LA had its own NFL team. But as NPR's Nathan Rott reports, that may be changing soon.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: OK. So to paint this with a bit of perspective before we get going, in nearly every year Los Angeles has gone without an NFL franchise, there are rumors and speculation that says one will be moving here soon. In 1996 it was the Seattle Seahawks. In 1999 it was an expansion team that ended up being the Houston Texans. And in just the last few years, it's been the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders. And what to do they have to show for it? This...

(SOUNDBITE OF KISS SONG, "DETROIT ROCK CITY")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: LA Kiss rocks Sunday at 5.

ROTT: Yes, that's the LA Kiss, an Arena league football team owned by Jean Simmons and Paul Stanley. So what makes now different for the city's chances of getting an actual NFL team? Well, a bunch of things. For the first time in recent memory, three NFL franchises with close ties to LA are on what amount to be year-to-year leases. That would be the Rams, Raiders and Chargers. Also for the first time, you have numerous major NFL owner like Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, telling NFL Network things like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JERRY JONES: I think with basis that it's more eminent than at any time in - since we haven't had a team in Los Angeles.

ROTT: And you have a comment the NFL made earlier this summer about helping pay for a stadium in LA. Here's Patrick Rishe, a sports business professor at Webster University.

PATRICK RISHE: That was really the first time that they had actually come out that boldly and said, we're going to put up a lion's share. That could be the tipping point.

ROTT: Rishe says the NFL is aggressively looking to increase its revenue. And they're running out of places to do it.

RISHE: We've reached a point where there's saturation. The markets that could have been moved into in the last 20 years have been moved into. LA is clearly the only major market without a team.

ROTT: And Rische says there's money to be made there. Just look at former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's recent $2-billion purchase of the LA Clippers basketball team. That'll give you an idea of LA's perceived market potential. So crystal ball?

RISHE: Crystal ball, I think the NFL coming back to Los Angeles is more of a reality now than it has been in the last 20 years. But because of what's happened in the last 20 years, you won't believe it until you see it.

ROTT: Until then, there's always the LA Kiss. Nathan Rott, NPR News.

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