Tagliabue pushing team for Los Angeles

Updated: March 28, 2006, 6:37 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Before he retires as commissioner, Paul Tagliabue would like to see the NFL get closer to placing a team back in Los Angeles.

While Tagliabue plans to be gone from the league in July -- if the owners can get together and find a successor by then -- a solution to the situation doesn't figure to come that soon.

Two sites are being considered, in Anaheim and at the current location of the Los Angeles Coliseum, each with cost estimates at $800 million, considerably higher than previous price tags. Tagliabue is eager to see a franchise return to Los Angeles, which was abandoned by the Raiders and the Rams after the 1994 season -- then failed to come up with public financing for an expansion team, which went to Houston beginning in 2002.

The subject is being discussed this week at the NFL meetings, although it will be at the spring meetings in May that any concrete plans are developed.

"My guess is that we will be going forward with those presentations on behalf of the Coliseum and Anaheim so that we can make some decisions in Denver, to select one of the stadium projects and to go forward with the process of identifying a team and building a stadium," Tagliabue said.

Tagliabue has told the 32 team owners that unless a plan for Los Angeles is formulated soon, getting a team back into the nation's second-largest market won't occur by the end of the decade. For now, a six-man committee is handling the issue.

He admitted that the stadium situation in California is not a good one. The Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers all play in older ballparks and are seeking new homes -- with a large chunk of municipal funding. The league has the G3 fund that helps get stadiums built and has worked well in other cities.

But it has not gotten anywhere on the West Coast, south of Seattle.

"They don't have the best stadiums in California," Tagliabue said, "and we're trying to work on that. Yes, it will be a priority."

Another priority for Tagliabue is making sure the Saints get back to New Orleans. The league scheduled the Saints' first home game in the Louisiana Superdome since Hurricane Katrina hit last August for Sept. 24, the third week of the season. Tagliabue said he's been assured by Saints owner Tom Benson that the team is progressing well toward its return, and the commissioner will be in New Orleans next week to "identify progress made in critical areas."

Tagliabue also dismisses the chance of a regular-season game outside the United States this year. In 2005, Arizona hosted San Francisco in Mexico City, drawing 103,467, the largest crowd in NFL history. The Cardinals won 31-14 and Tagliabue called the game "an element of legitimacy."

Still, the NFL won't be going overseas in '06.

The competition committee presented its proposals to the ownership on Tuesday and votes will be taken Wednesday on the issues.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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