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A 20 Year History of Trying to Bring the NFL Back to LA

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The mid-nineties were a rough time for Los Angeles football fans. They started so pleasantly: the Rams were playing in Anaheim, sharing a stadium with the Angels, and the Raiders were playing at the Coliseum. But then BAM!, by 1995, the NFL released both teams from Southern California; the Raiders headed north to San Francisco and the Rams went east to St. Louis. The complex reasons for why they left are not as interesting as the quest to bring the NFL back to town, which has been marked over the decades by rollercoaster ride of false starts, not-so-near misses, and dreams that refuse to die. In honor of that important upcoming football match this weekend, we're taking a look back at Los Angeles's post-home-team NFL history and all that the city's done in the last 20 years to try and bring the NFL back.

1995: According to a January 1995 LA Times article, Hollywood Park CEO RD Hubbard announces that he's secured a good chunk of financing for a football stadium at the Inglewood park. (Unfortunately, within this same year, the Raiders will be on their way back to Oakland and the Rams will make for St. Louis anyway.)

1996: Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley launches a feasibility study for a football stadium in Chavez Ravine, says a January 1996 LA Times article. O'Malley is the son of Walter O'Malley, the owner under whom the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn (and the one responsible for Dodger Stadium).

1999: The NFL approved an expansion franchise for LA but only if a stadium site could be found and financing secured. That didn't happen and by October the team had been given to Houston instead.

2002: Billionaire Philip Anschutz of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which developed LA Live, and Hollywood royalty/arena-football-team owner Casey Wasserman cop to having a plan to put a privately financed football stadium in South Park, next to the Staples Center.

2002: The Rose Bowl hires a consultant to frame the iconic college football venue as a perfect place for the NFL.

2003: An ad hoc LA City Council committee names the LA Memorial Coliseum the best location for an NFL reboot.

2003: Meanwhile, in Carson, the NFL is actively negotiating with talent agent Michael Ovitz and a San Diego developer over whether or not to put a stadium on a giant piece of land next to the Home Depot Center.

2003: NFL owners vote almost unanimously to look into an LA stadium, allotting $30 million to do so, but never spend the money.

2005: Mayor Villarigosa meets with the NFL Commissioner. They reach a preliminary agreement to bring a team back to Los Angeles.

2005: It's revealed that then-Dodgers-owner Frank McCourt has a secret plan to court the NFL and unseat the Coliseum as the best potential NFL venue in LA by building a new football stadium in Chavez Ravine next to Dodger Stadium. "The NFL appeared receptive to McCourt's building a stadium on Dodger property but reluctant to grant him a team."

2006: Pasadenans vote down a proposal that would have set aside money for renovations to the Rose Bowl that, once completed, could have accommodated an NFL team.

2007: Mayor Villaraigosa gives up on the Coliseum as an NFL-appropriate location.

2008: Edward Roski Jr.'s City of Industry stadium plan is born.

2008: Beverly Hills developer Richard Rand sniffs around in Carson for a suitable NFL stadium site.

2010: A stadium in Downtown's South Park starts to seem real again when AEG reveals three sets of renderings for the proposed stadium and sports complex. Still, a veteran reporter at the press conference for the release says that "given how many times a stadium, and bringing back football to LA, has been talked about in past years, this event 'feels like groundhog day.'"

2011: South Park's stadium gets a name: Farmers Field, for the insurance company that bought the naming rights for $700 million.

2012: Meanwhile, in Carson, the plan to build an NFL-friendly stadium is hanging on by a thread. At this point, Rand still only owns 12 acres of the 91 environmentally tainted acres he'd like for his sports/entertainment/retail complex, but let's not sweat the small stuff.

2013: New Dodger owners Guggenheim Partners want to bring the NFL to Chavez Ravine...

2013: ...But the prospect of working with Frank McCourt and his drama (he sold the Dodgers but still owned a lot of the stadium land), all the work that would have to go into traffic mitigation and noise issues, plus the project's likelihood of being a "litigation magnet" all seemed to make this possibility seem less enticing to the NFL.

2014: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke buys 60 acres in Inglewood and, despite all the previous points in this timeline, people get very excited.

2014: AEG asks for and gets a six-month extension on the deadline to secure a team for Farmers Field.

2014: The NFL is totally coming to LA within the next couple years, say mysterious sources within the NFL.

2015: Kroenke announces he's partnering with Stockbridge Capital, which is building a huge mixed-use campus on the site of Hollywood Park in Inglewood, on an NFL stadium. Renderings are revealed for a giant, 80,000-seat stadium and special events venue complex. History repeats.

2015: The Inglewood stadium collects more than twice the signatures it needs to get a proposal regarding the football stadium on the Inglewood ballot, possibly as soon as this summer.
· Farmers Field [Curbed LA]
· NFL Stadium [Curbed LA]

Rose Bowl

1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena, CA 91103

Farmers Field

W. Pico Blvd. & S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015 Visit Website

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

3911 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90037