It might seem like a quiet time relative to NFL relocation to Los Angeles, but in this case looks are deceiving.
With the league’s L.A. specific owners meeting just over a month away and St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland furiously trying to put together viable stadium plans intended to keep the Rams, Chargers and Raiders right where they are – and out of the arms of either Inglewood or Carson – rest assured there is a ton of activity going on.
All of which sets up a fascinating scene next month in Chicago when all 32 owners gather to hear the latest on what’s going on in each team’s local market and get updates on the Rams’ Inglewood stadium project and the Raiders’ and Chargers’ Carson proposal.
So what should we be focused on moving forward?
Here are a few things to be keep in mind:.
Does the NFL proceed to negotiate interim facilities leases in Los Angeles?
The league expects to officially reach out to Los Angeles venues this week or next to begin assessing temporary homes while either the Inglewood or Carson stadiums are being built. The Rose Bowl, Coliseum, Dodgers Stadium and StubHub Center are among the sites being considered, and if the NFL moves ahead and leases are signed, then this is a huge signal that activity in L.A. is likely. Last year, for instance, there was no organized effort to find interim facilities.
Do the owners establish a new, more expedited schedule at the August 11th meeting?
Obviously, there are great expectations in Los Angeles leading into the special owners meeting in Chicago. Not just among fans, but the Chargers, Raiders and Rams, one or two of whom might soon be setting up shop in the second-biggest market in the county. By moving up the current January 1st window for relocation – as has been discussed – the league will be signaling an obvious desire to speed up the process and reach a decision on who will be relocating to Los Angeles and where they will play by the end of the year.
If so, that will be consistent with the view that for a team or teams to be successful in L.A. they need to get started before the late March 2016 annual owners meeting vote.
On the other hand, if the NFL keeps the January 1st relocation window intact, and the March 2016 owners vote intact, that signals they are not absolutely decided on a move to L.A. in 2016.
What does St. Louis/State of Missouri do?
If St. Louis comes through with a viable stadium plan, and the Rams hopes to relocate to Los Angeles are stalled as a result, it could change the dynamics moving forward. For instance, what if the NFL then tells the Chargers and Raiders that, with the Rams no longer a threat to move to Los Angeles, we urge you to take another year to try to work things out in your home markets?
Thus putting off relocation until 2017.
That scenario seems highly unlikely, but certainly not inconceivable.
Will San Diego and Oakland deliver stadium plans in time?
Assuming Rams owner Stan Kroenke pulls the trigger on relocation to Los Angeles – regardless of what’s going on in St. Louis – the Chargers and Raiders have little choice but to do the same.
Which means San Diego and Oakland have their work cut out for them over the next few months delivering viable plans in time to keep their teams.
San Diego officials have reached out directly to the NFL about plans to help build the Chargers a new home on the Mission Valley land where their current home sits. The city faces a huge deadline completing an Environmental Impact Report by Aug. 3rd, which is when the document has to be completed and submitted for public comment.
At that point, a 45-day window opens for public comment, and once that window closes the city is proposing to take 13 days to incorporate the public comments into the document.
Technically there is enough time to complete the written report, but expediting the process comes with huge risk.
With time of such an essence, and San Diego getting such a late start on the process, everything is on fast forward. And while the city isn’t skipping any elements, it’s clearly squeezing what is normally a much longer process into a decidedly smaller window. The risk, of course, is it won’t hold up to public and legal scrutiny and the entire process gets stalled in court.
And even if the EIR passes muster – as hoped – a public vote on any agreed upon stadium plan between the Chargers and San Diego won’t happen until late January.
Can the Chargers afford to wait out the uncertainty of a vote – and perhaps lose Los Angeles as a result?
Unless the NFL delays the process, that seems risky.
The good news is, Oakland city officials finally have their hands on a preliminary financing plan for a new Raiders stadium.
The bad news is, a ton of questions remain.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the financing plan, one of several reports submitted Monday by San Diego-based businessman Floyd Kephart, is bound by a confidentiality agreement and has not yet been released.
As the Mercury News explains, Kephart has until Aug. 21 to provide a final stadium proposal, but top city officials and Raiders owner Mark Davis have described the preliminary financing plan as a potential make-or-break moment in the long-running effort to transform the sprawling 120-acre Coliseum site into a privately-developed urban center with sports facilities, apartment buildings, offices, shops and a hotel.
A number of issues stand in the way as it relates to the Raiders and NFL needing assurances this plan will work. As the Mercury News points out, with the Raiders and the NFL offering $500 million, Kephart must come up with a proposal to fully finance stadium construction without an outright public subsidy. Funding mechanisms used for other stadiums have included hotel tax surcharges, ticket surcharges, and stadium parking surcharges.
Complicating the situation is Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff has said he doesn’t want to be neighbors with the Raiders in the proposed development. So Oakland officials could be deciding on whether to appease the A’s or the Raiders.
In addition to the stadium financing plan, Kephart told the Mercury News he also submitted required reports Monday on the feasibility of the housing and commercial components of the project, along with proposals on dealing with the nearly $100 million of debt remaining on the Coliseum and public financing of needed infrastructure improvements expected to cost about $150 million.
If public officials don’t like the plan, writes the Mercury News, they can opt not to renew their agreement with Kephart, who has claimed to have hedge fund connections, to finance the project when it expires in August.
With the NFL demanding quick results, stadium experts said Oakland will have to keep working on a Raiders deal even though it could hinder its chances of getting a new baseball stadium built.
The hope is they can pull it off.
But with NFL owners meeting again in August, and chances looking good an expedited Los Angeles process might come out of the meeting, Oakland is running out of time.
It might seem like a quiet time as it relates to L.A. relocation – but looks can be deceiving.