This will never happen.
By MICHAEL LEV
The Orange County Register
Coming soon to a stadium near you, or at least a couple of jammed freeways away:
The Los Angeles Saints and Anaheim Chargers.
Despite some seemingly obvious signs, it is still too early to make a definitive assessment of the NFL landscape here. Tom Brady would have a difficult time reading this one.
With no plans in place, and none likely forthcoming anytime soon, all we can do is speculate. And speculate we shall, in the tradition of talk-radio debates and bar-room discussions everywhere.
First topic: Are the Saints more likely to move now?
"Depending on what happens in the next 4-5 months, it could go either way," said Sportscorp Ltd. president Marc Ganis, a veteran player in the stadium game. "One of the big problems in New Orleans has been that (Saints owner) Tom Benson has wanted a new stadium, but there hasn't been a site or money for it. You could argue that there will be enough insurance money and federal money to build a new stadium."
FEMA already has set that precedent. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it awarded almost $88million to the Coliseum for repairs.
The Louisiana Superdome, post-Hurricane Katrina, will require at least that much, probably a lot more - assuming the decision is to repair it and not, as they say in the car-insurance business, "total" it.
Another factor is the New Orleans market, one of the NFL's poorest. Will the disaster spur increased business as companies try to rebuild the city? Or will the market become even less desirable because fewer people will want to live there, fearing another catastrophe?
Before Katrina hit, the Saints were considered a favorite to relocate. The Superdome was outdated. Louisiana was struggling to make its annual payments to the team of $15million. And the Saints could get out of their lease at the end of this season at a cost of $81million.
Now the state has much bigger priorities. Which begets this question: Is Louisiana better off without the Saints?
Clearly, the state could use that $81million from Benson right now. That figure is concrete, unlike the financial gains from playing host to a Super Bowl, a topic economists have debated for years.
But you can't dismiss the potential long-term benefits of being in the Super Bowl rotation. Nor can you ignore the positive effect a football team can have on a community. The Saints' thrilling victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 uplifted more than just the team's spirits.
The Saints will play four of their home games in Baton Rouge this season, and Ganis didn't rule that out as a multiyear option should the Superdome be rebuilt or replaced. Other NFL teams have made similar arrangements.
The other three Saints home games will be in San Antonio, where city officials are viewing their hosting opportunity as a tryout. San Antonio already was a viable competitor for an NFL team, despite the league's desire to return to Los Angeles.
If the Saints were to move to San Antonio, the L.A. options would shrink. The Chargers are still one of them. Their preference is to remain in San Diego, but the political climate there might make it impossible.
The Coliseum would take anyone at this point. But it could lose one of its assets - public funding for infrastructure improvements - if the team comes from within the state.
Less political red tape is just one more reason Anaheim makes more sense for the Chargers than L.A. The obvious one is that Orange County already provides a sizable chunk of their fan base.
A Chargers move to Anaheim wouldn't preclude a Saints move to L.A. Yeah, the league is having enough trouble getting one stadium project off the ground. But there's more than enough room for two teams here.
Speculatively speaking, of course.