I wrote a column yesterday explaining ways the NFL and the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams can be flexible in working out a Los Angeles relocation solution in which all three teams are satisfied with the outcome.
The beginning premise is Rams owner Stan Kroenke having his heart set on moving to Los Angeles – no matter what local leaders in Missouri offer in terms of public assistance on a new stadium in St. Louis – and San Diego and Oakland not delivering new stadium plans for the Chargers and Raiders.
Not saying that is how it will play out, but my educated guess is the Rams absolutely want to move to Los Angeles. And where there is a will there is usually a way.
But it will take compromise.
Long story short, it would involve the Rams and either the Raiders or Chargers teaming up in Inglewood on a mutually beneficial deal, and the Rams and their Inglewood partner directing part of their relocation fees and other short-term profits to either the Raiders or Chargers to help them build a new stadium in Oakland or San Diego.
In my scenario, the team most likely to stay put is the Raiders – with a little bit of help from the NFL, the Rams and Chargers and Bay Area leaders.
Predictably, the reaction was mixed, although I think it might surprise some fans who would actually be on board with this type of solution.
In any case, the reaction from St. Louis was a mixture of anger, distress and disappointment. Understandable considering St. Louis would be left out in the cold, despite working with state leaders to potentially come up with financing to help the Rams build a stadium in downtown St. Louis.
In any event, maybe there’s a way to keep NFL hopes a live in St. Louis.
As I mentioned in my column, the Rams, Chargers and the NFL would direct funds to the Raiders to help build a new stadium on the land on which their current home stands.
The potential problem is, the city of Oakland and Alameda County still have to kick in land and infrastructure costs to help the project along, and perhaps contribute some financing.
Considering how the Oakland A’s stadium needs could complicate what Bay Area leaders do with the land, and how difficult it is extracting taxpayer money for professional sports venues in California, it’s not a given the Raiders get the local help needed.
If not, maybe St. Louis can remain an NFL city after all.
Here is how: Borrowing from the premise of my column, what if the NFL gave the opportunity to win the extra resources to both Oakland/San Diego and St. Louis — and then challenged both to come up with a deal that either kept or attracted the Raiders/Chargers?
St. Louis could at least stay in the game. And they might even have the advantage.
Granted, the Raiders and Chargers have given no indication they’d be on board with a move to St. Louis. In fact, the Raiders have been emphatic in shooting down any notion they’d ever be open to that possibility.
If they hold firm, this is a moot suggestion.
But if I’ve learned anything covering the 20-year NFL to Los Angeles saga, things can absolutely change.