Raiders, Chargers, Carson officials meet today with NFL in Los Angeles

On the same day the NFL invited the St. Louis task force in charge of putting together a stadium plan to keep the Rams in Missouri, the league’s point man on Los Angeles, Eric Grubman,  met with representatives of the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and the mayor and city attorney of the city of Carson, where the Raiders and Chargers have partnered to build a stadium.

The meeting, according to a source, went very well and duck tapes nicely with the upcoming vote by the Carson City council next Tuesday, at which time the Raiders and Chargers stadium plan is expected to be entitled.

When that happens, Carson will be neck and neck with the Rams Inglewood stadium project.

It’s also worth noting the NFL – after meeting this week with the San Diego task force – is not happy with progress on the San Diego stadium front to keep the Chargers. The financing plan relies too heavily on the surrounding development around the stadium, tapping into revenue streams the NFL deems property of the Chargers, and the project will take too long to be entitled.

The NFL also went to Oakland to talk to city leaders there about the stadium plan intended to keep the Raiders at the site of their current stadium, but there has been little information coming out of the meeting.

Not trying to read too much into that, but it sure seems conspicuous the Raiders and Chargers and Carson leaders met with Grubman immediately after his meeting with Oakland leaders.

And that circles us back to the St. Louis task force meeting next week with the NFL’s stadium committee, where the task force will update the committee on it’s stadium plan in St. Louis.

Grubman told me today not to read too much into the St. Louis task force going to New York – while San Diego and Oakland’s stadium leaders won’t be there – saying: “Markets will update as necessary when they are making progress on a specific project. No need for updates if there are no specifics”

And while that is true, it’s obvious St. Louis has an update it wants to present to the NFL as it fights to keep the Rams.

And that is significant as we move along to a solution.

As we stand here today, Carson and St. Louis are making progress.

San Diego isn’t.

NFL warns San Diego time is of the essence

From the moment the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders announced a partnership to build a stadium together in Carson, the cities of San Diego and Oakland were on the clock.

If the sense of urgency hadn’t dawned on San Diego officials at that point, the NFL’s Los Angeles stadium point man made it crystal clear Tuesday time is of the essence.

And reading between the lines of NFL vice president Eric Grubman’s comments after his meeting with the San Diego stadium task force, it’s hard to feel positive about where San Diego is headed at this point relative to coming up with a stadium that can adequately be financed and suit the Chargers needs.

The primary misgivings the Chargers and the NFL have with San Diego’s plans to build a Chargers stadium in Mission Valley is how it will be financed and the timing of getting such a massive project entitled.

Unless the NFL puts off Los Angeles for another year – highly unlikely at this point – San Diego has six months or so to come up with a stadium plan that can be suitably financed and fits the needs of the Chargers.

That seems an incredibly daunting, especially considering the Mission Valley stadium is tied to a bigger development of which time-consuming entitlements might cause long delays.

The Chargers and the NFL don’t have that kind of time – not with the Rams eyeing Inglewood and everything moving to a resolution by the beginning of 2016.

There is still time, but it’s running out.

Grubman, incidentally, is in Oakland today meeting with city and county leaders for a new Raiders stadium.

Suit filed to avoid public vote on Rams’ St. Louis stadium project

In a move intended to speed up the process to lock up a new stadium for the St. Louis Rams, the public body that owns and operates the Edward Jones Dome filed suit on Friday against the city of St. Louis, seeking to avoid a civic vote on the use of taxpayer money for a new downtown football stadium.

You can read the full story here from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

The suit claims a 2002 city ordinance requiring a public vote is “overly broad, vague and ambiguous,” and asks the judge to rule that it either doesn’t apply in this case, conflicts with state statute, or is unconstitutional.

Essentially, the goal is to bypass a vote – avoiding costly time and potential defeat – in order to secure financing to build the Rams a new stadium.

Time, of course, is of the essence now that Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased land in Inglewood and intends to build a privately financed stadium at the old Hollywood Park Race Track site.

Kroenke’s Inglewood project is one of two Los Angeles area stadium proposals along with the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers joint stadium plan in Carson.

It is widely believed the NFL will soon decide on one of the the two stadium plans, and that professional football will be back in Los Angeles by 2016.

However, St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego will all have their say, and each is in the process of securing new stadium deals to keep their teams.

Hence, the urgency in St. Louis to bypass a vote.

“Our issue is time — not a public vote,” said St. Louis stadium task force member and former Anheuser-Busch executive Dave Peacock. “(The Rams and NFL) sped up the timeline. We need clarity quickly.”

The move was not met with universal praise, as the Post-Dispatch pointed out.

“Our concern is that one government is suing another, and both have been working together to build a new stadium,” said St. Louis University professor and legal clinic supervisor John Ammann, who sued the city this week to try to force a public vote. “The city counselor has a responsibility to vigorously defend all the laws of the city. Our role now will be to monitor to make sure the city counselor represents citizens, not the interests of the NFL.”

Moreover, Ammann asked, even if the Dome authority wins the suit, is it right to skip a vote?

“Forget the legalities of it,” Amman said. “Isn’t that what city residents believe, that they have a right to vote on this?”

How high will Los Angeles re-location fee soar?

Among the many interesting aspects of the NFL returning to Los Angeles is what a relocation fee might look like to the team or teams moving here.

We know the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are all attached to stadium proposals in the Los Angeles area – the Rams in Inglewood and the Chargers and Raiders in Carson – and we know that all three teams are simultaneously waiting on their local markets to put together stadium deals intended to keep them in their current cities.

What we don’t know is how much it will cost them to relocate to Los Angeles if they move here. Considering the team or teams will be taking over the lucrative, untapped potential of the second-biggest market in the country, you can expect it will be a hefty number.

“What if they say it will cost us a billion dollars to move to L.A.?” an executive with one of the three teams in consideration asked me.

At first I thought he was joking. But after hearing anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion being bandied about last month at the NFL owners meetings – or a combination of a hefty money payout and land – I’m beginning to think he was being completely serious.

The tricky part of figuring out what it will cost is taking into account for what factors the NFL will look at to calculate its price.

But it’s also worth noting the team or teams with intentions of moving will seriously weigh the cost of doing so against the benefits of remaining in their home city.

So, while it seems Rams owner Stan Kroenke is intent on moving to Los Angeles, it still might be premature to say he is leaving regardless.

Kroenke has no idea yet what St. Louis might offer relative to a stadium deal, and he also doesn’t know what it will cost him to move.

Until all those questions are answered, you can bet he won’t show all his cards.

Getting back to what it will cost, this isn’t a case of an expansion fee, in which the other owners figure out what it will cost someone to make up the difference for them cutting their financial pie by one or two more pieces.

It’s literally calculating how much more money the NFL stands to make by putting an existing team in Los Angeles, and how to fairly share that additional wealth.

Or, as NFL vice president Eric Gubman explained to me recently:

“There’s no formula associated. Relocation fee, what is it meant to compensate for? In this case, an expansion fee is meant to compensate for the dilution of league revenues that instantly occurs. And even though there’s no formula for that, you can at least get your head around that dilution. In this case, Los Angeles is a valuable asset that is a league asset. When it (stops becoming) a league asset and becomes the asset of one or two clubs, that’s the negotiation. I come, at least one of my careers I come from a financial background and I couldn’t tell you there is a knowledged way to do it. I think every situation is different.”

Especially when it comes to Los Angeles.

The NFL is working toward an answer. The owners will gather again in San Francisco in late May, at which time they will be updated on the Rams and Raiders and Chargers situations.

A decision isn’t expected to come down at that point, but when they gather again in October in New York don’t be surprised if the NFL is ready to make a call on who is coming to Los Angeles and what stadium they’ll play in,