PHILADELPHIA The NFL is so eager to get back into the Los Angeles area that it will spend up to $10 million looking into the viability of a stadium in Carson, Calif.
Commissioner Paul Tag-liabue also said Tuesday the league is just as interested in the development of a state-of-the-art stadium in Pasadena, site of the Rose Bowl. But the NFL has made no financial commitment to investigating any projects there.
John Moag, the Baltimore investment banker hired by the Rose Bowl Operating Co. to lead its bid, said he presented Pasadena's offer to Tagliabue in a morning meeting. Moag said the offer was passed unanimously by the Pasadena City Council late Monday night and he expects to hear Tagliabue's response later this week.
Since the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season, Los Angeles has not had an NFL franchise. Several teams, including the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts, have expressed interest in moving to the nation's No. 2 market.
Whether it would be an existing team or an expansion team, Tagliabue and owners made it clear the NFL remains enamored with Los Angeles.
''Both cities have been very forthcoming in their dealings with us,'' Tagliabue said. ''We look forward to working in the months ahead with both of them to see what can be developed that makes sense to their communities and the NFL.''
The owners voted 30-1-1 to approve the option with GMS Realty to ''investigate fan acceptance, site suitability and the overall financial viability of a public-private partnership to develop a world class, state-of-the-art stadium, suitable to host Super Bowls, at the Carson site.'' The Raiders voted against and the Colts abstained.
Carson, 20 miles south of Los Angeles, previously has expressed interest in building a stadium for an NFL team, and a 27,000-seat soccer stadium for the MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy opens next month.
The San Diego Chargers will hold their training camp in Carson this summer.
The Rose Bowl has hosted five Super Bowls, most recently 10 years ago, and is the home to UCLA's football team. It would need extensive upgrading or a total rebuilding to suit the NFL.
Moag disagreed with a suggestion that Carson and Pasadena are on equal footing in the owners' minds.
''We've been at this for 10 months in Pasadena. We've completed an extensive design phase, we've been through numerous financial models, produced a comprehensive traffic and parking plan, and received unanimous support from the City Council,'' he said.
''That's a lot different from having a piece of land that's a hazardous waste site in a community where you haven't even met the politicians yet.''
Tagliabue said other Los Angeles sites would be considered, including the aged Coliseum, which the Raiders left nearly a decade ago. Selection of any stadium site requires approval by three-quarters of the teams, as would consent to relocate a team there; both issues would be voted on separately.
No team would play in Los Angeles before 2006.
Tagliabue wouldn't limit to one the number of franchises that could land in Los Angeles, be it by expansion or relocation.
''Conceivably, this is a two-team market like New York and like Los Angeles was in the past,'' he said.
Many owners said an NFL presence in Los Angeles is a must, although they'd likely face a court fight from Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who still claims he has territorial rights in Los Angeles.
''Los Angeles is a very important market,'' Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said, ''and we want them to have a team there if things come together with the stadium issues. But the NFL should not be in LA without a state-of-the-art stadium. We've gone the other route.''
The route to playoff expansion appears blocked, although Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a proponent of increasing the postseason field from 12 to 14, hopes for a vote Tuesday.
''I don't know if we will get to a vote, but I think it should be voted at this meeting and I expect it to pass,'' he said.
However, the competition committee voted 8-0 against an expansion this year, and several owners consider it a dead issue for now.
''We really want it on the front agenda,'' said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who made the proposal along with the Kansas City Chiefs. ''I think it is the right thing and I hope it happens a year from now.''
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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