With a six-week window opening today for NFL teams to apply for a move to Los Angeles, no franchise has yet to indicate serious interest in relocating here, a key stadium executive said Monday.
Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, said he has not heard from any team that wants to apply in 2013 for a move to Los Angeles. Last year, the National Football League asked teams seeking to apply to move to Los Angeles to submit applications between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, 2013.
AEG won approvals from the city in September to build a new football stadium named Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles next to the convention center. But it doesn't intend to start construction until signing a lease with a team.
In an interview Monday, Leiweke said he's had talks with team owners on two National Football League committees, including a committee focused on Los Angeles.
He believes the plans for AEG to be sold by its parent company may be delaying football franchise owners from seeking a move to Los Angeles until the company's new owner is determined.
"What I would guess ... is that there is no club currently that's going to file for a transfer simply because they are waiting to see what happens with our ownership situation," Leiweke said.
"I haven't been made aware of any team that is going to file for a move in 2013," he added.
Los Angeles has been without an NFL team since the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders departed for Oakland in 1995.
Now, the Rams and Raiders as well as the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars have all been subject to speculation in the last year as possible candidates for relocation.
Of those, the Rams may be the most eager team to move given the club's ongoing dispute with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which runs the stadium, over renovations.
Tom Bateman, director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, hopes the Rams are able to make a deal with AEG and move to Los Angeles during the 2013 season.
"A lot of things would have to happen, but I think it's possible," Bateman said. "There is a time limit on Farmers Field; it can't be dragged out forever."
Excited about a possible NFL return to L.A., the City Council last year OK'd AEG's $1.5 billion stadium, hoping a speedy approval of the downtown project would allow the company to ink a deal with a team in time for the 2013 season.
The City Council's backing came three months after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all 32 clubs, laying out the ground rules for moving to Los Angeles.
Goodell's letter was interpreted as a sign of support for a possible move. He stated any team seeking to relocate to Los Angeles for the 2013 season must file an application in the roughly six-week period following Jan. 1.
A number of provisions, including making a deal with a alternative site, such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, were also required for teams intending to relocate.
In addition to AEG's stadium, developer Ed Roski also has plans for a stadium in the City of Industry. The NFL has also expressed interest in placing a football stadium at Dodger Stadium in Echo Park.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to comment on whether the league expects any teams to apply.
Asked if the NFL is still interested in Dodger Stadium as a stadium site, McCarthy wrote: "We are closely monitoring all developments in the Los Angeles area."
The spotlight on a possible NFL return to L.A. comes as the Anschutz Co. explores a sale of AEG.
Leiweke said Monday "a short list" of buyers has been narrowed down for AEG, a global company that owns Staples Center, the L.A. Kings and dozens of other music and sports properties. The company, which is expected to fetch more than $6 billion, was listed for sale by Anschutz Co. in September.
"There are about a dozen individuals or companies that are now in the next stage," Leiweke said, declining to detail who was on the list or bid prices.
Leiweke said he believes that if the company is sold, it could happen as soon as first quarter of 2013.
"We need to finish this last piece, which is an ownership group committed to the deal that we have outlined, and committing financially to building Farmers Field, and I think that it's going to happen." ___