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Sports Business

Irsay could pose roadblock to NFL's L.A. move

October 21, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

It’s ironic that the last man rumored to be moving an NFL franchise to Los Angeles might now be one of the obstacles for a new NFL owner cropping up in the City of Angels.

No, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay doesn’t want to keep L.A. vacant so he can move his team there at a later date. Even when he was negotiating with Indianapolis officials for a new post-RCA Dome home, Irsay denied that he was taking a serious look at relocating the team to L.A. Now that Lucas Oil Stadium is built, all the talk about the Colts moving to L.A. is ancient history.

But this month, Irsay again made big news in L.A. At the NFL owners’ meetings in Houston, Irsay came out against a proposal that would allow an ownership group to get a sizable slice of a team, say the Oakland Raiders, for a cut-rate price in exchange for helping finance an NFL-worthy stadium in Los Angeles.

The way Irsay sees this, it would be like your neighbor selling his $300,000 house for $150,000. A move like that devalues the entire neighborhood. And since NFL teams are valued not only on cash flow, but also on recent sale prices of other NFL teams, Irsay is dead set against AEG’s Philip Anschutz—or any other entity—acquiring a piece of an NFL team for anything less than market value.

Irsay isn’t thinking of selling his team. He just wants to protect its value.

And Irsay isn’t buying the notion that the NFL must be in L.A., one of the nation’s top two media markets.

“There’s been a feeling like we’re going to steal a deal because we’re L.A. and we’re such a big market, and you have to come here,” Irsay told the Los Angeles Times.

“The bottom line is, if an owner’s going to go in there, and if he’s going to sell 10 percent or 20 percent, he’s not going to sell it for $5 million a point,” Irsay added. “I think it could be a tremendous deal. I’ve always said that if it’s done the right way it’s going to be a great deal. But I think things have fallen apart there in the past because, quite frankly … no one’s going to steal a minority interest for an outrageous price.”

Anschutz is asking for a 30-percent to 50-percent interest in an NFL franchise at a discount in exchange for paying $1.3 billion to build a new stadium.

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