The NFL’s 32 owners will gather next week in New York for their annual fall meetings, at which they will discuss all the pertinent business of the most popular professional sports league in the world.
But make no mistake, owners will focus intensely on the 507 square miles that make up the second-biggest market in the country.
It’s beyond obvious the NFL wants back in Los Angeles after an egregious 20-year absence. But it’s equally obvious the league is at a virtual stalemate deciding whether to approve the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders Carson stadium bid or the St. Louis Rams Inglewood proposal.
It’s a complicated situation that could be headed to an ugly, divisive vote that will declare one or two winners but also one or two losers.
The damage and hard-feelings of which might never heal.
Unless, that is, someone finally stands up and leads this to a satisfactory outcome – or at least mandates a summit in which the owners of the three teams involved can sit down together and negotiate a solution in which they can can all walk away satisfied.
One of those potential solutions has been outlined to me.
But more on that it a bit.
I’ve been emphatically told there is a willingness for such a summit, but confusion as to who should request it.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke can’t call Chargers and Raiders owners Dean Spanos and Mark Davis, lest it appear he’s trying to pit one against the other.
Spanos and Davis can’t call Kroenke, lest it looks like they are stabbing each other in the back.
The six-owner L.A. committee can’t do it, at it might appear they’re trying to dictate a certain outcome.
Same for Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Get the picture?
So where does a directive come from?
Probably a respected owner with no obvious bias to one project or the other. Maybe Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, for instance.
Or maybe Spanos, Davis and Kroenke simply drop the pretense and anger and bitterness and competitiveness and realize it’s worth a shot to sit down and talk face to face and find out if there is a way they can collectively help each other.
And if so, draw up a plan they can take to fellow owners.
At least that way they can better insure an outcome that suits them.
And if they can’t figure out a mutually beneficial proposal, the matter goes back to their fellow owners for a vote and Davis, Kroenke and Spanos will just have to live with the outcome.
If you’re any of the three owners, do you want a major say in the solution or leave your fate to 29 owners who might be looking at it 29 different ways?
And I have to tell you, it would make the NFL really, really happy if Kroenke, Spanos and Davis can work this out on their own.
Because the league and its owners are having a very hard time figuring out a way to appease everyone and hurt no one.
For some owners, the easy choice would be approving the Chargers and Raiders bid to build a shared stadium in Carson. It would solve two long-time California stadium issues with the relatively less disruptive move to Los Angeles.
On the other hand, there are owners squarely in the corner of Kroenke, who is proposing a sprawling, privately funded stadium and entertainment center at the old Hollywood Park racetrack site in Inglewood.
For various reasons – and in their own ways – both projects are highly attractive and would serve as ideal homes for the NFL’s long-awaited return to Tinseltown.
No surprise, then, that the NFL is in such quandary trying to pick one over the other.
Which is why a summit makes all the sense in the world – if only someone can step up and call for it.
And what would a proposed negotiated outcome look like?
After doing some poking around, this outline was drawn up:
The Rams invite either the Raiders or Chargers to join them in a partnership in Inglewood, one that makes financial sense to either team and sets them up strongly moving forward.
The offer to the third team – let’s say the Raiders – would be this:
The Rams divert their $200 million dollar G-4 loan to the Raiders, with the Rams paying it off through visiting team game-day profits from their Inglewood stadium.
The NFL diverts $200 million from the Rams relocation fee to the Raiders.
Combined with the Raiders own G-4 loan ($200m) and projected PSL sales ($150m) the Raiders would have $750 million to put to a new stadium before dropping even a dime of their own money in.
That’s a pretty good head start to build a beautiful new home in your local market.
At the very least, it’s a starting point for a negotiated outcome.
But it only happens if Davis, Spanos and Kroenke sit down and talk.
And it’s time somebody from the NFL – or the three owners themselves – made it happen.
Call a summit already. It might just lead to everyone walking away with their heads held high.