NFL idea: Al Davis laughs and laughs

October 04, 1994|By Ron Rapoport | Ron Rapoport,Los Angeles Daily News

NEWS ITEM: The National Football League is considering building a stadium in the Los Angeles area and contributing to its financing by holding the Super Bowl there on a regular basis. The stadium would be built with the help of local government and private enterprise or both. A permanent NFL theme park could be part of the stadium complex.

Welcome to Frontiereland, the first stop on our tour of the NFL's Magic Kingdom. This portion of the park is sometimes called Six Flags Over Georgia and is a tribute to the woman who made it all possible.

It is fitting that we begin our journey here because it was the Rams' decision to leave Los Angeles that instigated this construction in the first place. The league was appalled by the idea that no teams would be left in the nation's second-largest city and entertainment capital so it leaped into action. The result is the opulent new stadium and amusement park you see before you.

The irony, of course, is that it was the Rams' inability to get anyone in the Los Angeles basin to build them a new stadium that prompted them to leave in the first place. That is why it seems so fitting that at the center of this exhibit there is a larger-than-life statue of its namesake.

And, yes, those are real tears -- they have been reproduced in perpetuity for this exhibit through the wonders of science -- shed by Mrs. Frontiere herself when she woke up in her new hometown and realized that the timing of the Rams' move could have been a little better.

"Nobody told me how cold it gets in St. Louis," she said, "and I'm getting awfully tired of Italian food."

Now, if you will follow me this way, we will continue our tour in the Al Davis Funhouse.

Those gleeful shrieks you hear are the very ones uttered by the President of the General Partner when he learned of the plans for the construction of this complex.

"I've been fighting the NFL for close to 30 years," Davis said when he heard the news. "I stole their best players when I was running the rival AFL. I broke their rules when I left Oakland and relocated in Los Angeles. I sued their pants off and cost them tens of millions of dollars.

"And now they're going to turn around and build this nice new money pit of a stadium for little old me? Why, I'm touched, truly touched. There is the little matter of the NFL paying me for infringing on my territorial rights, of course. But I'm sure we can work something out. All I'd want is, oh, say, half the gross receipts for the next 10 Super Bowls."

Our next stop is the Hall Of Screaming Owners. It is a monument to the 28 other NFL proprietors who couldn't believe the league ** would do this for one of their number.

"We fought like tigers to get our stadiums financed and nobody helped us," they said. "We cut all kinds of special deals to get public finds. We threatened to leave town. Some of us did leave town and got hung in effigy. And do you know how many politicians we had to take to dinner and make small talk with? All so the league could build a stadium for Al Davis? You've got to be kidding us?

"And what's this about playing every other Super Bowl in Los Angeles? Does somebody have something against New Orleans. Don't the bar owners on Bourbon Street have a right to make a few bucks off Super Bowl Week, too? At least show us the creative ways you geniuses have come up with to make the city fathers of Los Angeles shell out for bringing all the high-rollers into town."

Yes, I agree, the volume level of all this shouting does get a little uncomfortable after a while, but I'm sure you'll find our next exhibition more soothing and restful. It's the Statue of the Unknown Taxpayer. Yes, that is an inspiring inscription, isn't it?

"Neither shortage of funds nor critical civic needs nor ticket prices far beyond the reach of the common man shall stay the NFL from its appointed rounds at the public trough and from its attempts to discover every tax loophole known to man."

Well, that concludes our guided tour, but don't miss the other attractions of the park: The Pete Rozelle Tunnel of Love, the William Perry Roller Coaster -- also known as The Fatterhorn -- and, as a special treat this week only, The Deion Sanders Salute To Sequins.

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