Why an NFL to Los Angeles stalemate works

Depending on who you listen to coming out of the National Football League’s special Los Angeles related owners meetings in Chicago, the Carson project being pushed by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers moved ahead of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium project.


The Carson plan is fading and Kroenke has a decided leg up on the quest back to Los Angeles.

Do yourself a favor, don’t believe either account.

When the NFL concluded the two days of meetings last week, one thing was abundantly clear. The three-team, two-stadium race back to L.A. is at a stalemate.

“That’s basically where we are right now,” said a high-raking league official.

And that’s just the way the NFL likes it.

It means the league has options.

It means everyone understands a negotiated outcome – directed by the league – is the solution that best ensures all three teams emerge with an outcome they’re satisfied with.

And while the Chargers and Raiders haven’t done enough to overtake Kroenke and the Rams, they clearly put themselves in position to block an easy, direct path for the Rams to L.A.

Considering the Raiders and Chargers got a late start in the process, that isn’t a terribly bad place to be. They have a strong voice and say in how this ends up. That’s a good thing.

The question is, where does it go from here?

Unless a late push by the Chargers and Raiders moves Carson decisively ahead of Inglewood over the next few months, I think the league grants Kroenke’s wish to move to Inglewood. But he’ll have to offer a fair deal to Chargers owner Dean Spanos to join him in Inglewood – and the Raiders would have to have strong future options – to cinch the deal. Otherwise, he’ll risk losing the necessary support from fellow owners.

So what does happen to the Raiders?

The Raiders first choice, obviously, is joining the Chargers in Carson. And that still remains a strong possibility.

But if that doesn’t happen, there might be better options for them than teaming with the Rams in Inglewood.

If the Chargers move to L.A. – and assuming nothing is happening in Oakland – San Diego automatically emerges as an extremely desirable landing spot for the Raiders, who have insisted all along they aren’t demanding a new palace as much as they are a fair, modest, contemporary stadium that fits their needs and the needs of their fan base.

And while San Diego faces an uphill climb satisfying the Chargers stadium requests before the NFL decides on Los Angeles – most likely in January of 2016 – with a little more time coupled with the obvious motivation of luring the NFL back, perhaps they can come up with something that entices the Raiders to move south.

There are certain cities the Raiders would be open to relocating to. San Diego would be one of them.

Who knows, maybe a renovated Qualcomm Stadium does the trick.

It would cost decidedly less than a brand new stadium, it secures the Raiders future in one of the best cities in the country, there would be no need for conference reconfiguration and it pulls San Diego back into the Super Bowl rotation.

Meanwhile, Kroenke gets his wish. Spanos is taken care of and Los Angeles in back in the Super Bowl rotation.

It might not be the solution everyone envisioned upon beginning this process, but there is no way anyone walks away from that outcome feeling like anything but a winner.

Lastly, where does that leave St. Louis, which is working diligently toward finalizing a stadium deal – for someone.

I don’t think local leaders would be pushing as hard as they are without some level of confidence it will eventually work out. Maybe that means the Jacksonville Jaguars making the move to St. Louis – as has long been mentioned.

One way or another, I see things working out for St. Louis.







Video: Kiefer Sutherland-narrated NFL to L.A. video, in all it’s glory

Huge h/t to our very own David Crane for posting this fantastic video on his tout page.


Undated architectural shows the Peristyle Club and Patio section of the proposed $1.7-billion NFL stadium in Carson, Calif. (MANICA Architecture)

The video is pretty amazing– Did we mention already it features Kiefer Sutherland? It’s been featured already by SB Nation, CBS Sports, Curbed L.A. and Bro Bible, among others. They’ve made all of the jokes and poignant observations that need to be made, so we will just let their work stand. If you haven’t done so already, watch the video. If you already saw it, watch it again. It’s just as great the second time.

Other Links

NFL meetings underway, here is what is on tap

SCHAUMBURG – Los Angeles will be front and center today in this small Chicago suburb, as all 32 National Football League owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell gather to hear the latest from the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams about their L.A. area stadium projects and why they deserve the nod for relocation to the second-biggest market in the country.

After waging long fights to get new stadiums built in their home markets, the Chargers and Raiders no longer believe San Diego and Oakland can step up with suitable stadium plans, and are teaming up to build a joint stadium in Carson.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a stadium in Inglewood, and feels he has relocation justification based on St. Louis opting not to honor a lease stipulation it agreed to upon luring the Rams from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995. Essentially, the Rams believe they are free agents no longer locked to any particular market. As a result, they are pushing a move to Los Angeles.

All three teams will state their cases to the league’s full ownership group at a special Los Angeles owners meeting today. The NFL could decide which teams move and what stadium they’ll play in by late 2015 or early 2016.

Today is a big step in that direction, as the teams state their cases for relocation and their specific projects and continue the process of forming alliances within the owner ranks. Keep in mind, in order to be approved for relocation teams need 24 votes of approval.

Here is a brief run down of what’s on tap.

10:30: The Raiders and Chargers will address NFL owners about their Carson stadium proposal. Carson point man Carmen Policy, on behalf of Raiders owner Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos, will present the plan to owners for 30 minutes or so and then take questions from owners

11:30: (or so) The Rams, led by owner Stan Kroenke and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, will update owners on Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium plan

After lunch: NFL owners will be updated by league Vice President and Los Angeles point man Eric Grubman and the 6-owner Los Angeles committee on a variety of Los Angeles related issues, including Carson and Inglewood plans and temporary homes while a new L.A. stadium is being built. In addition, updates will be given on San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis situations.

San Diego leaders confident after meeting with NFL, but Chargers don’t agree

CHICAGO – With the clock ticking on the National Football League’s return to Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers insisting they are full steam ahead to relocating to the second-biggest market in the country, leaders from their current home made a case to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell they are ready, able and on the way to approving a new stadium for the Chargers.

And that they can complete their objective in time to keep the Chargers out of L.A., where they are proposing a joint stadium with the Oakland Raiders in Carson as a fall-back plan in case new stadiums don’t emerge in San Diego and Oakland.

During a meeting that lasted a little under an hour-and-a-half on Monday, San Diego leaders updated Goodell, NFL Vice President Eric Grubman and the league’s 6-owner Los Angeles committee on the progress they are making on a new Chargers stadium in Mission Valley.

Afterward, the San Diego group felt they provided compelling evidence they can clear the environmental, legal and funding hurdles needed to get a stadium approved by early next year.

“We feel good about how things went,” said Stephen Puetz, the chief of staff for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The Chargers felt otherwise, and immediately issued a statement through lead counsel Mark Fabiani indicating they want nothing to do with the city’s current plan in which a rushed EIR and uncertain vote leaves them vulnerable to missing out on their Los Angeles opportunity.

“Never before in California history has a controversial, billion dollar project relied on environmental review documents hastily prepared in three weeks,” the statement began. “The Chargers have been clear from the start that the franchise will not be the City’s guinea pig for this inevitably ill-fated legal experiment. Remember, these are the same politicians who told us, with disastrous results in court, that the convention center expansion could be financed by a vote of the hoteliers rather than a vote of the people.

“Both history and current polling show it will be extraordinarily difficult to persuade voters to devote hundreds of millions of General Fund tax dollars to a stadium, but in the end any funding plan is going to be dragged down into the quicksand of the City’s legally inadequate environmental review process — a process that will be bogged down in court for years before it is eventually declared illegal.”

Puetz and his colleagues arrived armed with a completed 6,000-page Environmental Impact Report they believe will hold up to public scrutiny and be approved in time for a special January vote.

The Chargers have insisted that, between the EIR hurdles and the reluctance of local voters to approve public financing, the Mission Valley project will either get held up in court for a prolonged period or derailed by vote. The risk of going down that path, they say, would leave them vulnerable to getting squeezed out of a spot in Los Angeles, where a three-team, two stadium race is underway including the Chargers/Raiders Carson plan and St. Louis Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium proposal.

The NFL could decide by the end of 2015 or early 2016 what team or teams relocate to Los Angeles and what stadium they will play in.

Puetz argues the EIR – which is being aided by outside consultants and city staff working around the clock – will hold up legally with the help of San Diego native and California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who promises to expedite any environmental lawsuits filed against the city.

“Any idea that it will be marred in lawsuits for years is just completely not the case,” Puetz said.

Puetz also insisted a professionally conducted survey shows San Diego voters will approve dipping into general fund revenues by a vote of 51-41.

“We believe it will pass,” Puetz said. “The key element is you can’t increase taxes. If you increase taxes as part of this process it will not work.”

The Chargers challenged the results of the survey – especially how it was worded – and say the two surveys they’ve commissioned in which they asked  voters if they would approve the use of $350 million dollars for a new stadium, indicate an overwhelming lack of support.

The question now is, will the NFL hold up a decision on L.A. to enable San Diego to at least get it to a vote?

That was one of the topics San Diego discussed with the NFL on Monday.

“They were very, very interested in our timeline and our process and the certainty that we can provide,”Puetz said. “They seemed understanding of those dates.”

The Chargers, on the other hand, are intent on getting to L.A. And at least at this point, insist they will not get bogged down in San Diego’s plan.