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.
“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.