Atlanta's Mayor Reminds Council: LA Wants NFL Team

LA still does not have an NFL team, a fact never lost on teams seeking public financing plans for new stadiums

Conjecture involving an NFL team moving to Los Angeles was renewed this week when Atlanta's mayor warned that city's council that Los Angeles is on the lookout for an NFL team, but added that the franchise's owner is committed to staying in Atlanta.

Mayor Kasim Reed told Atlanta television station WAGA that he wants action within 60 days on a new Falcons stadium funding plan. He told the station that he reminded the council in a private meeting that Los Angeles is attempting to bring the NFL back to the city after the loss of the Rams and Raiders in the mid-1990s.

"There are multiple business ownership groups, business groups, in Los Angeles, that are actively looking to place a team in Los Angeles," said Reed. "And, they are willing to pay a heck of a lot more than $200 million for that opportunity."

The Falcons' funding plan for a new open-air stadium involves $200 million raised through a hotel visitors tax. The plan includes $800 million from the Falcons and $50 million from the team to pay the Georgia Dome debt.

It's a familiar scenario involving NFL teams in search of a new stadium that includes public financing. The Minnesota Vikings appeared to entertain a move to Los Angeles before a nearly decade-long attempt to move out the aging Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis led to the legislature's approval last year of funds for a new $975-million stadium.

Reed also told WAGA-TV the Falcons "have an owner who is committed to the city of Atlanta."

The Falcons -- they fell one win short of the Super Bowl with a loss to San Francisco in the NFC Championship game -- want to open a new stadium by 2017. If a new stadium is not built, the Georgia Dome would require expensive upgrades, according to the team.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has never mentioned a move to Los Angeles to him. Blank, co-founder of retailer Home Depot, bought the Falcons in 2002.

As for Los Angeles, the largest U.S. city without an NFL team, a franchise is the major piece missing from its NFL puzzle. In October, the Los Angeles City Council approved developer AEG's proposal for Farmers Field and a convention center expansion.

The stadium and surrounding downtown Los Angeles projects are scheduled for completion in 2016. The project is ready to proceed once a team is approved, according to AEG.

The NFL has not signaled plans for league expansion. A team transfer would have to be approved during a meeting of NFL owners, with the next meeting scheduled for March.

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