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It's time to make a decision about bringing NFL back to L.A.

Phil Anschutz says he's ready, but the people have become silent and confused, and the window of opportunity to bring an NFL team to the city is getting smaller.

March 29, 2013|Bill Dwyre
  • There is a limited window for NFL teams to decide whether or not to move to L.A., while Phil Anschutz's deal with the city to build a stadium downtown only goes through October 2014.
There is a limited window for NFL teams to decide whether or not to move to… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Two things can spoil the best chance Los Angeles has had of getting an NFL team back in the city.

OK, let's restate that. Two things that I can understand can spoil L.A.'s chances. If you start talking bond-floating and tax-assessing and environmental reporting, I'm out. Those were not required journalism-school courses.

What I do know is that, often, the most complicated things are solved by the simplest actions.

In the immediate aftermath of Phil Anschutz standing up and saying he is ready, willing and more than able to put a shovel in the ground at Farmers Field, that everything is in place and he now has the wheel on the bus, we still have:

1. Silence.

2. Confusion.

The reason for both is the NFL itself. We have gone through so many iterations of maybes, could-bes and looking-betters that we're beaten down. More than any city, Los Angeles understands the true meaning of cry wolf.

So when we hear of new plans, new enthusiasm, we yawn and turn on "American Idol." We remain silent. The media is tired of it, the city fathers still bear scars from earlier tussles with it, and the public — even those who badly want a team and would line up for tickets — has NFL fatigue. Once great water-cooler fodder, it's barely a drip now.

Every time we stir a little excitement out of our NFL-weary bones, the NFL squelches that with talk about other sites. Any other sites. If we had a spot in South El Monte, the NFL would say it needs to look at Pico Rivera. Or Catalina Island. Hey, it'd be fun to go to games in boats.

They never stop.

We are not only silent from boredom on the subject, but we are confused, leveraged into a coma. The NFL is the Marvin Davis of sports leagues. With L.A., it is a tire-kicker.

The time has come. The NFL pros need to stop the con. This is probably the last window of opportunity for the wealthiest sports league in the country, maybe the world, to get wealthier, to come to a gold mine, to quit acting like a sharpie in a leisure suit, dealing on a new car.

Anschutz's deal with the city goes through October 2014. The NFL's time slot for teams to apply for a franchise transfer is usually between the end of the Super Bowl and their March meetings. That very likely makes next winter and spring drop-dead time for the NFL in L.A.

There have been many such times over the years, but this one is different. The guy who writes the checks, and can probably write bigger ones than most of the current NFL owners, waits. The city has done its part. The state too. The media needs to keep digging on behalf of the taxpayers, which it will do.

Anschutz isn't demanding discounts or sole ownership of teams or stadiums. He just wants a good deal. He's a businessman. That's what he does.

The city fathers need to give it one more shot, to voice recognition of Farmers Field as the deal, to reject talk of a Dodger Stadium site, or Hollywood Park or the San Pedro wetlands (does San Pedro have wetlands?). No more tire-kicking. No more leveraging of L.A. so other owners can get new freeway ramps by threatening to move west.

We've been the crowbar long enough.

Herb Wesson is the president of the L.A. City Council. He gets it. He said the other day that Farmers Field is "the only project that is shovel ready." That's not entirely true, because Ed Roski, a good man who mostly wants a team for L.A. any way it can happen, could move fast in the City of Industry, but seems to have slipped from NFL favor.

Wesson and his peers need to make the kind of noise the NFL listens to. No more leverage. One deal. Nothing confusing about that.

The NFL has heard Anschutz. Presumably, many of its owners have already talked to him. You get a multibillionaire wanting to join your club and you sure don't worry about him paying the dues.

We also need to temper our suspicions of a rich guy from Denver, coming here and becoming the man behind the drive for the NFL. There are lots of rich guys in L.A. None of them got it done.

It's simple. Do you want an NFL team or not? If so, make some noise. That's what this column is doing.

It's even simpler for the NFL. Put up or get lost.

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