NFL owners vote 30-2 to find another city for use in twisting local pols’ arms for public money
posted at 4:41 pm on January 13, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
In other words, the Los Angeles Cash Cow has been fully milked. Twenty-two years after the LA Rams became the St. Louis Rams and the NFL left the second-largest media market in the country without a team, the St. Louis Rams have become the Once And Future LA Rams. The effort by owner Stan Kroenke to acquire his own land and build a stadium in Inglewood topped efforts by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers to move into a different area of Los Angeles:
The NFL made its long-awaited return to Los Angeles Tuesday after an absence of more than two decades. Owners of the teams voted to allow the Rams to move from St. Louis to Inglewood, Calif., and gave the Chargers the option to join them there by relocating from San Diego.
“I said this morning that we’ve been at this for over 20 years,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at an owners’ meeting at a Houston hotel that originally was scheduled to last into Wednesday. “We felt that we needed to have the kind of stadium, the kind of project, that had vision, that had the facilities that would really bring a new kind of fan experience to the NFL and to Los Angeles.”
The Rams are expected to play their home games next season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while the Inglewood stadium, estimated to cost around $2 billion and scheduled to open in 2019, is under construction.
Kroenke will pay a hefty fee for the relocation, which will get spread around to the other owners:
The fee to move a team is $550 million. Kroenke has the option to either pay that all at once or with 10 annual installments of $64 million, but a source told ESPN’s Jim Trotter that Kroenke will pay it in a lump sum.
The city of St. Louis offered to build a stadium for the Rams that would have cost Kroenke less than half of that amount, let alone saved him the massive construction costs that will come with the Inglewood project. The league rejected it because it demanded $200 million from the NFL, which has a self-imposed limit of $100 million in league contributions to the playgrounds where they make their money. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon blasted the decision and hinted at the possibility of legal action:
Uh, Nixon’s aware that St. Louis benefited from the Rams abandoning Los Angeles in the first place, right? And that they did so by offering a new stadium? I have some sympathy for the fans in St. Louis, but the decision by politicians there to play along with the extortion over public financing for single-use stadiums leaves them no moral position on which to complain about being out-bid when what went around came around.
The Chargers and the Raiders got parting gifts from their fellow owners in the form of cash and options. Both teams secured guarantees of the maximum $100 million in financing from the league if they can make a deal in their current locations for new facilities. San Diego will get the first option to join the Rams in their Inglewood facility, but that would mean that the 84-year-old LA Colisseum would then have to host two teams — unless the Chargers made arrangements to use Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, the home of the UCLA Bruins.
Actually, the Colisseum may not be the only option, although USC certainly hopes it is — so they can fund their large-scale remodel of the site:
USC is the only current tenant at the iconic stadium, but the Coliseum long played host to three teams — USC, UCLA and the NFL’s Rams, who were later replaced by the Raiders. From 1946 to 1949, it was home to USC, UCLA, the Rams and the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference, and in 1960 it was home to USC, UCLA, the Rams and the Chargers before the AFL expansion team left for San Diego.
The return of two professional teams to the stadium would be a financial windfall for USC, which needs to fund a proposed $270-million upgrade to the stadium it presented in a preliminary plan to the Coliseum Commission last October. …
A potential pitfall: Exposition Park’s other tenants could raise issues because major events can cause disruptions to their operations.
If the Coliseum can’t take both teams, there are four other known options for professional football in Southern California: the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and the StubHub Center in Carson. And though none have embraced the NFL’s previous overtures, they may be willing to reconsider once they know which prospective tenant they would be getting.
The 92,000-seat Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which has staged five Super Bowls, offers the best fit. Three years ago, the Pasadena City Council, anticipating an NFL move, approved a proposal that would have allowed a relocating team to use the stadium for as many as five seasons.
I’d guess that Kroenke would prefer the Rose Bowl, but the politics of the situation — and the need to build a fan base closer to Inglewood — will likely lead to the Colisseum instead.
Congratulations to Angelenos, who have been without a local team ever since Georgia Frontiere packed the Rams up and took them to St. Louis. As a native Angeleno myself who watched the Rams leave, I admit I have some sympathy for their drive to get the Rams back. However, they’d better understand that this is a 20-year lease and not a permanent residence. When Kroenke or his family decide to cash out, be prepared to hear how this state of the art facility is suddenly too problematic to use, and that LA can’t support an NFL team. And that’s pretty much true of almost every NFL franchise, with the exception of the community-owned Green Bay Packers.
In the meantime, though, the NFL will now have to find another city to exploit as an alternative for owners looking to shake down their cities and states for public financing. St. Louis might win that status, but it may also go to San Diego or Oakland, depending on who exercises the option. Hope they get used to being Charlie Brown when the NFL’s Lucy gets their hopes up to join — or rejoin — the club.