SAN DIEGO – No NFL team has built a new stadium in California since the 1960s.
The Chargers, Raiders and 49ers have played in some of the oldest facilities in the league.
That seems poised to change as the NFL approved a $200 million loan Thursday for San Francisco’s planned stadium south of Santa Clara.
The funds will come from the resuscitated G4, which takes contributions from all 32 teams and uses league money for local projects.
The Chargers continue to work on a stadium proposal in downtown San Diego and have said money from the G4 program could be an important component of getting it financed.
“We’re excited about getting a new stadium built in California,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “I certainly hope that it’ll lead to more stadiums in California.”
Goodell pointed to the new labor agreement and the recently-signed long-term TV contract extensions as “a runway of 10 years,” more conducive to stadium projects.
“We want to keep our teams where they are,” Goodell said. “We believe that’s healthier for the league in the long term.”
He also said efforts to get new stadiums built are important in some cities so teams can continue to be successful, and called new stadiums “good for the communities, good for the teams, and most of all great for the fans.”
NFL NETWORK PACKAGE EXPANDS: The NFL Network will broadcast 13 Thursday games in 2012 between Weeks 2 and 15, Goodell announced. The Network showed eight games in 2011.
The Network broadcast its first game Nov. 23, 2006, and still is working to make sure providers like Cablevision and Time Warner Cable include it in their packages.
“We think (the expanded Thursday Night Football schedule) is great for the fans (and) great for the teams because everyone will get that primetime exposure,” Goodell said. “The network continues to do an incredible job of promoting our sport, our game and giving the fans an opportunity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to get NFL football.”
HGH TESTING: NFL owners continue to work toward implementing HGH testing, getting a soft agreement from the NFL Players Association during labor negotiations last summer.
But the NFLPA wanted further assurances of the validity and fairness of the test. Goodell said Friday during his state of the NFL address from Indianapolis he feels the two sides continue to make progress resolving those issues and is hopeful the league can implement testing in the near future.
“We believe the science is clear,” Goodell said. “I do not hear any dispute from scientists around the world on the fact that this test is valid and we have the basis to put in and implement an HGH test that is fair to the players.”
CONTINUED LEARNING: The NFL continues to consider concussions a serious issue and still is refining its efforts to curtail head injuries and ensure players receive a proper diagnosis, Goodell said.
He trumpeted the league’s public stance on concussion research, providing information to medical journals and the public to absorb, study and debate since the first NFL concussion committee formed in 1994.
“What I’m proud of is that the NFL’s leading the way. They are embracing this,” Goodell said, citing the military’s use of the league’s research. “The NFL is bringing awareness to this issue.”
The league still is focused on making sure players are evaluated, particularly during games when sidelines can get hectic for doctors.
Just this season, the NFL mandated independent trainers attend each game. They help identify the type of contact that merits doctor evaluation. Goodell called NFL team doctors some of the best in the world, but cited the need to make sure they’re informed of who needs to be evaluated.
The NFL introduced video technology during this postseason that allows team doctors to review plays on the sideline to identify the location of a possible impact. The technology likely will be retained for the 2012 regular season, Goodell said.