The Road to Nowhere: Vikings not talking in LA

This is a big week for the Vikings. According to NFL bylaws they have to tell the league whether they’re staying in Minnesota or going somewhere else for 2012 by Wednesday.

Here’s the relevant passage from the NFL Franchise Relocation Policy:

The club must give the Commissioner written notice of the proposed transfer, including the date on which the proposed relocation is to become effective, and publish the notice in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community. The notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur. The League will provide copies of the notice to governmental and business representatives of both the incumbent community and the community to which the team proposes to move, as well as the stadium authority (if any) in the incumbent community (the “interested parties”)

You can read the whole policy at the end of this post.

But technically, that’s just among friends. The league makes the rules, and arguably can break the rules if they’re of a mind to do so.

Still, if you’re going to leave, that presumes you have a location to move to. And if the Vikings are in fact thinking about eventually kicking off in Los Angeles, they’ll have to play somewhere else while Farmers Field or the City of Industry stadiums get built.

Which pretty much leaves the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl.

Here’s what Coliseum general manager John Sandbrook had to say today, when asked if the Vikings had talked to the Coliseum’s governing board about playing there in 2012:

“No.”

That said, there is an interesting passage in the prospective new lease agreement with the University of Southern California:

USC will cooperate with a request by the City, County or State for use of the Coliseum on a temporary basis (up to 4 years) by not more than one NFL

team. USC will negotiate in good faith with the NFL to structure a sublease at

fair market value; provided that USC will not incur any additional expense or

liability and will be indemnified by such NFL team against liabilities resulting

from such sublease

That’s part of a renegotiated lease between the Coliseum Commission and USC, scheduled to be approved this spring.

But it seems unlikely that the Vikings could go from not talking at all to the Coliseum and telling the NFL they’ll kick off there in August in any reasonably short time frame.

Which leaves us with the Rose Bowl, which hasn’t seen a Minnesota football team since 1977. That stadium actually hosted five Super Bowl games, the last in 1993. So it can handle an NFL crowd.

But general manager Darryl Dunn has some caveats to add to that. Asked if the stadium is NFL ready, he said in an interview today that “what we would have to do is do an environmental impact report. That would take at least eight months… The earliest an NFL team could play here is 2013.”

Add to that the fact that the Rose Bowl is currently undergoing a $154 million renovation. That isn’t scheduled for completion until 2014. The project calls for construction to accommodate UCLA games, but it’s unclear if they could make way for 10 other home games, as well.

And then there’s the NFL notice issue. Here’s what Dunn had to say about the NFL playing at the Rose Bowl:

“We have not talked to any teams at all. There’s been zero.”

The Vikings have hinted that there are “other communities” that have expressed an interest in hosting the team if they decide to decamp from Minnesota. There’s always the Alamodome in San Antonio and Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

But in the meantime, it doesn’t look like the Vikings will be going to LA, at least for the 2012 season.

NFL Franchise Relocation Policy

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