With the new year looming and the possibility their professional football teams might be on the move to Los Angeles, the cities of Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis met a National Football League mandated deadline Wednesday by submitting final stadium proposals and updates they hope will keep the Raiders, Chargers and Rams right where they are and out of the hands of L.A.
The fate of their futures as NFL cities is up to the leagues 32 owners, who are expected to decide in two weeks in Houston between the Raiders and Chargers relocation proposal to a privately funded joint stadium in Carson and the Rams relocation bid to a privately funded stadium in Inglewood.
NFL owners will gather in Houston on January 12th and 13th, presumably to decide what team – or teams – will move to Los Angeles and what site they will call home.
The leagues six-owner committee on Los Angeles Opportunities – along with various other related committees – will meet beforehand in New York January 6th and 7th. The Rams, Raiders and Chargers will be in New York as well.
And while owners will take an incredible amount of factors into account in deciding who ends up in the second-biggest market in the country, the efforts by San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis will also be weighed carefully.
To varying degrees, each of the three cities met the NFL’s deadline to submit updates.
“We are able to confirm that we have received submissions from Oakland, St. Louis, and San Diego as requested,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “All three submissions are generally consistent with our most recent discussions with public officials and task forces. We appreciate the leadership that public officials have demonstrated on behalf of the three cities. There is a great deal of information for the three teams and all of NFL ownership to review and consider. At this point, no applications for relocation of a franchise have been filed.”
According to sources, there were no major surprises in any of the three proposals – or in Oakland’s case, update.
St. Louis is the lone city with an approved stadium plan, offering $400 million in public financing for a $1.1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River. But the proposal also accounts for an additional $100 million from the NFL – which hasn’t yet approved the extra financing – to bring the team and league contribution to $710 million.
“St. Louis has formally presented a $1.1 billion project that delivers more than $400 million in public financing and support, as well as a plan for an ultra-modern stadium on our downtown riverfront that the NFL and the St. Louis Rams will be extremely proud to call their own,” said St. Louis Stadium Task Force chief Dave Peacock. “Our proposal is the result of extraordinary teamwork by multiple government agencies, business leaders and industry experts, and is the culmination of intense work over the past 13 months to deliver on the certainty that has understandably been requested by the NFL.”
The Rams are not interested, though, and argue they are free agents able to relocate based on St. Louis’ refusal to honor the original lease the Rams signed upon moving there in 1995. The agreement stipulated the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the Edward Jones Dome, would pay for necessary improvements to maintain the EJD as a top-tier NFL stadium. But when an arbitrator ruled it would cost $700 million, the stadium authority balked. In doing so, it allowed the Rams to convert their EJD lease to one-year leases with the intent to relocate.
The Rams are expected to file for relocation to Los Angeles when the filing window officially opens on January.
But there are timing and assurance issues.
San Diego’s efforts are predicated on a public vote in June to approve the city’s financial contribution. And while the city leaders outlined optimistic polling data for the potential vote in the proposal they delivered to the NFL, the Chargers have expressed consistent concern the plan will not be approved by local voters. In addition, there are concerns the project will get tied up in court on environmental issues.
The Chargers worry that by locking themselves into an uncertain San Diego stadium plan, they’d eventual;l;be left with no long-range home in San Diego and lose their landing spot in Los Angeles.
As a result, they have been focused entirely on Los Angeles for months now and are expected to file for relocation on January 4th.
“The proposal does not contain anything new, and so the team has nothing new to add to what has already been said about the proposal,” the Chargers said in a statement.
In Oakland, local leaders delivered a five-page letter to the NFL that suggests making 60 acres of land available to the Raiders for a new football stadium on the south end of the 120-acres property their current stadium sits. But that doesn’t address the $400 million funding gap the Raiders face on the proposed $900 million stadium they envision – and the city isn’t in position to help with – and while the local leaders are promising the club 8,000 surface parking spaces, it doesn’t specify where, exactly.
Upon seeing a draft of the letter, Raiders owner Mark Davis told the Bay Area News Group he couldn’t help wonder if Bay Area leaders just aren’t willing to help.
“They just don’t want to play with us,” he said. “I don’t know why. I don’t understand it.”