Do they love LA, or are they using LA as a prop to wring concessions from their home-town politicians? That has been the modus operandi of NFL franchises ever since the Rams packed up and moved to St. Louis. Now owner Stan Kroenke says he wants to bring them back to the Southland rather than take the reasonably generous deal offered by St. Louis, but he also has competition from two of his colleagues. The NFL will meet next week to see which teams, if any, will win approval for relocation– the Rams, the Oakland Raiders, and/or the San Diego Chargers:
Kroenke persevered in his relocation decision despite St. Louis’ efforts to preclude the Rams from returning to LA with a new stadium proposal of their own. Given the fact that Kroenke already owns land in LA for a potential new stadium, the city’s offer for a $1.1 billion facility isn’t exactly a blockbuster, at least not by league standards. It proposes a split in costs — $150 million investment from the city, $250 million from Kroenke, $200 million from the NFL, another $160 million in seat-license sales, with Missouri picking up what’s left from the tab — about $550 million or so (although passage in the state legislature isn’t a certainty). With Kroenke set to build a $1.8 billion stadium complex in Inglewood, complete with retail and hotel accommodations, his interest in pursuing his California options are obvious.
However, that deal may not be enough for Kroenke to get the 3/4 vote needed to approve relocation. The Raiders and Chargers have deeper California roots and want out of their markets for more pressing reasons. They’re looking at a joint effort to build a stadium in Carson, a mostly industrial area of Los Angeles with excellent freeway access, for $1.7 billion. That effort has some high-powered money and SoCal prestige backing it in the form of Disney CEO Robert Iger. Not only could that tempt NFL owners for its connection to an entertainment giant, that deal would involve two relocation fees instead of one. It could also mean less disruption in league scheduling as both teams would stay in their current time zones, although it might be a bit awkward to have two division rivals sharing the same facility. Would that require juggling conference assignments — perhaps swapping the Chargers with the Rams?
Some answers may emerge next week. At first I figured that Kroenke and the Rams might have the inside shot, but the existence of a stadium deal and the complications of having two California teams without one probably works against them — and Iger makes a difference, too. It may end up that the owners approve none of the proposals, preferring to keep LA as the carrot that forces other cities to cough up public funding for new playgrounds for millionaires and billionaires. However, at least this time Angelenos have numbers on their side, and perhaps the tease strategy has hit its expiration date.