Photo of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during a press conference. 

Image Credit: WEBN-TV (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The National Football League generated more than $7 billion during the 2014 season and Roger Goodell still isn't happy. The often criticized league commissioner hopes and projects that those numbers will reach $25 billion by the year 2027. Those numbers may seem unreachable because let's be honest, how much more popular can the NFL get? This projection is why there is so much commotion to get the correct NFL franchise in it's ideal city and market. Los Angeles is the only American city to lose two NFL franchises to other cities when they lost the Rams to St. Louis and the Raiders to Oakland. Let's not kid ourselves, there is some risk involved with experimenting with professional football in Los Angeles again. But the NFL and it's popularity and revenue streams are vastly different in 2015 than in 1995. 

Unfortunately, the NFL hasn't fared so well in St. Louis or Oakland, either. St. Louis has a limited corporate presence compared to other cities and baseball's St. Louis Cardinals seem to hold the hearts of the city's sports fans. A proposal for a new $1 billion stadium was recently pitched to St. Louis officials and residents but it didn't go over too well. A stadium costing that much would likely drain the city's economy and taxpayers. The proposal for the new stadium calls for construction down by the riverfront and adjacent to Lumiere Place Casino. The site is not far from the Edward Jones Dome, current home of the St. Louis Rams. National Car Rental, which is headquartered in St. Louis, has expressed interest in purchasing the naming rights to the name stadium if constructed.  

The city of San Diego in California are also in the same predicament. San Diego Chargers ownership (the Spanos Family) wants local taxpayers to contribute money for a new stadium. Mind you, San Diego is a city that's already expensive enough to live in. Qualcomm Stadium, their current home, just isn't up to date and lacks the amenities for club and luxury seating that other NFL stadiums have. 

 

The city of Oakland's economy and demographics aren't able to sustain an NFL franchise the way Los Angeles, CA or London, England could. Plus, the Raiders compete in the exact same TV market as the ever so popular San Francisco 49ers. Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics are also in the same boat; they share Oakland Coliseum with the Raiders and are rumored to be moving to San Jose, California. The NBA's Golden State Warriors who play at Oracle Arena next door, have already made plans to move to San Francisco in the near future. In all likelihood, it will be the  San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders relocation to Los Angeles to share a stadium; much like the New York Giants and New York Jets do with Metlife Stadium. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has partnered with Stockbridge Capital Group to build the new stadium in Los Angeles. Kroenke is likely using this as a threat and leverage to secure a new stadium in St. Louis for the Rams, however. 

London, England is a sports market Roger Goodell has had his eyes set on for quiet some time. Since 2007, at least one NFL game has been played at London's Wembley Stadium each season. The majority of NFL players strongly object the idea of calling London, England home with fear of being away from family, time zone differences and being at a disadvantage due to jet lag. I don't think Roger Goodell cares. The idea of moving the Buffalo Bills an hour down the road to Toronto, Ontario was also explored. The Bills played a string of home games over consecutive seasons at Toronto's Rogers Centre but the hockey-crazed city never seemed to take to them. The Buffalo Bills still remain as the NFL's least profitable franchise as of 2014 and still play in the severely outdated New Era Field. Like the St. Louis Rams, the Buffalo Bills have numerous proposals out there to have a new home built but nothing is set in stone. A waterfront stadium seems to be the most popular idea among area residents; a project that will cost in excess of $1 billion to construct.  

The Jacksonville Jaguars are also another obvious choice for relocation. This time, it has nothing to do with whether the Jaguars have an adequate stadium or not. Everbank Field is a phenomenal NFL venue, the problem is that they just can't fill it; even for games vs. divisional rivals. In years past, owner Shahid Khan would cover certain sections of the stadium with tarp. This was done to shrink the stadium's capacity so that television blackouts happened less frequently. The Jaguars now have two full time employees working remotely in London, England and plan on extending their participation in the NFL International Series in upcoming years. 

As you can see, Goodell wants to see every market pulling their weight since most of the NFL's revenue is shared. Many analysts and sports writers would agree that the ongoing franchise shuffle could have been avoided had expansion teams been awarded to St. Louis and Baltimore rather than Charlotte and Jacksonville in 1995. I am anxious to see where each and every team ends up come 2018. I am also anxious to see how far NFL attendance declines in coming years with such great television coverage via DirecTV, the NFL Red Zone and the NFL Network. Many NFL fans are beginning to find out that they would rather just watch games at home and are sick of being price-gauged.

 

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