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Magic Johnson trying to bring NFL team to LA

It started as a rumor but now it's official. Lakers legend Magic Johnson wants to bring an NFL team to L.A.
December 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Magic Johnson trades in his basketball shoes for cleats. He announced a new effort to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.L.A. used to be an NFL city. It had the Raiders, it had the Rams. Back in 1960, the Chargers played in L.A. But it's been 16 years since a professional team has called L.A. home, despite the fact that L.A. has a beautiful skyline and entertainment districts, it's an NFL desert. Could a little "Magic" change that?

Efforts to bring an NFL team back to L.A. over the years have been a series of punts and fumbles. But now local basketball hero Magic Johnson is throwing up a "Hail Mary."

"I teamed up with Tim Leiweke and AEG and we're going to come together to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles," said Johnson Tuesday night on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" show.

Earlier this year Johnson sold off his ownership share of the Lakers for an estimated $27 million, as well as more than a hundred Starbucks franchises, for a reported $75 million.

Now, flush with cash, he's teaming up with the folks behind the Staples Center to lure an existing NFL team to downtown L.A.

AEG's plan is to tear down a section of the L.A. Convention Center and build it within spitting distance of the AEG-owned Staples Center and L.A. Live complex.

Float that idea on the streets of Los Angeles and people seem to get a little giddy.

"I would do it here, makes sense. Dodger Stadium's here, city central, easy to get to," said Redondo Beach resident Jim Krause.

"The buildup of downtown with L.A. Live has created a central location for everyone to go, so I'm for it," said Valencia resident Kat Connolly.

But is another team up for it?

Recently talk has circulated that the owner of the San Diego Chargers is planning to sell a 35 percent share of the team to AEG owner Philip Anschutz, but an attorney for the Chargers ended that conversation quickly Wednesday with a written statement:

"There is no truth to the rumor out of Toronto that the Chargers have agreed to sell a portion of the team to Mr. Anschutz," wrote San Diego Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani.

Other NFL insiders say the Minnesota Vikings may be thinking of moving to L.A.

But after 16 years of waiting for the NFL, local football fans are split on whether it will happen this time around.

"I'd be surprised if it ever gets through the political process and all that," said one L.A. resident.

"I'll hold my breath and cross my fingers and hope that pans out," said Jim Krause.

Most of the 16 years without an NFL team in L.A., there have been many promises that another team is right around the corner, but it never seems to materialize. One big reason: Stadiums are very expensive. The last one that was built, for the New York Giants, cost $1.7 billion.

AEG says it could build a stadium in downtown L.A. for the bargain price of $1 billion.


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