LOS ANGELES (Nov. 10, 2005) -- The NFL and city officials have reached a preliminary agreement on terms to bring a team back to the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made the announcement Nov. 10 on the steps of City Hall. But he didn't identify a potential tenant or speculate when Los Angeles might get the team.
He also spoke positively about a team playing at a facility proposed for the Angel Stadium parking lot in Anaheim and didn't rule out the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as a possible home field, either.
As Tagliabue entered a limousine, he was asked if he could assess the significance of what he had just announced. He replied, "I'd rather not try."
The commissioner did say: "It's the first time we've had agreement on term sheets. We're one step closer, two or three steps closer. Whether it's 2009, 2010, or 2000-whatever, our goal is to have definitive agreements on all subject matters well before our league meetings in March."
The Los Angeles area, the second-largest television market in the country, has been without an NFL team since the Raiders moved from the Coliseum back to Oakland and the Rams moved from Anaheim to St. Louis before the 1995 season.
After announcing plans in the spring of 1999 to put an expansion team in the Coliseum, the NFL was unable to reach an agreement with the Los Angeles backers and instead awarded the 32nd franchise to Houston that October.
Houston businessman Bob McNair and his backers offered to pay $700 million for the new franchise and spend another $310 million on a stadium, making it the NFL's first billion-dollar deal. The Texans began play in 2002.
Tagliabue said significant progress has been made in the past year regarding the Coliseum. His statement came following a meeting with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and before a session with Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.
"I think the critical thing now is we're at the point where it's recognized, certainly by us, that the time is right," Tagliabue said. "We have to get agreements finalized. We'll be pursuing agreements in Anaheim. We're going to work with both communities for an agreement."
He said there have been no in-depth discussions on whether the region would get an expansion or existing team.
Tagliabue said last month that future expansion was unlikely anywhere but Los Angeles.
He also said it was important to make sure Southern California, the nation's top-ranked college team, was comfortable with any agreement, since the Trojans have made the Coliseum their home since 1923.
Tagliabue planned on meeting with USC coach Pete Carroll later Nov. 10. The commissioner met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzennegger late Nov. 9.
Tentative plans call for the NFL to finance construction of a $500 million stadium inside the Coliseum, home to the Rams from 1946-79 and the Raiders from 1982-94.
City Councilman Bernard Parks said after listening to Tagliabue that he believes the Coliseum will eventually get an existing team rather than an expansion team.
"The NFL is going to have a say on who's going to come here. The Coliseum has no role in selecting a team," Parks said.
Asked when it might happen, Parks replied: "I don't know. Nobody's signed anything. They've got to say they're coming."
That being said, Parks expressed optimism.
"In my judgment, I don't believe these business people waste their time and money," he said. "They've spent a lot of time and money."
While Tagliabue didn't rule out the Rose Bowl, the Pasadena City Council voted 5-1 last June to pursue a plan for the stadium that doesn't involve the NFL. Carson dropped out of contention in May when city officials decided to build a mall on its proposed site.