Who is the Raiders mystery investor?

I’m hearing more and more the Raiders could be on the verge of bringing on a business partner to help them with their potential move to Carson with the San Diego Chargers.

After doing some poking around, it appears to be someone well connected to Los Angeles, and someone who will enhance the entertainment and development aspects of the Raiders and Chargers shared stadium project.

The question is, who is it?

I’ve heard everyone from Tim Leiweke to Casey Wasserman to Irving Azoff to Magic Johnson, but thus far everyone is being extremely tight-lipped about who it might be as is what the ultimate role will be for whoever is brought on.

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One thing that’s been made very clear to me: While the mystery person could invest money into the club, I continue to be told Raiders owner Mark Davis will not sell controlling interest in the team. This isn’t a move out of desperation, The Chargers and Raiders have the necessary financing in place to get the stadium done. And the Raiders are well positioned to operate successfully in L.A.

Whoever is brought on, it will be as a minority owner who will increase the Raiders and Chargers ability to maximize non-game day revenue opportunities. Think surrounding development and entertainment possibilities.

That’s a key point, as the sense I am getting is the NFL’s return to L.A. isn’t just about building a new stadium. It’s about developing an NFL themed entertainment center.

That is what St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is trying to do in Inglewood, and while the Carson project was always dramatically different than the Inglewood vision, it seems the NFL might want Carson to move more in that direction.

Bringing in someone who can enhance that vision – and infuse the Raiders with additional capital – could be a key in Carson ultimately gaining NFL approval.

The question is, who is it?

NFL To Los Angeles: Let the politicking begin

I wrote last week about a subtle but significant shift occurring in the quest to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles. And it could mean the end is in sight.

As I wrote:

Very quietly, albeit noticeably, the league office is beginning to transition the process into decision-making mode, and the result is the influence of the NFL office now yields to the influence of owners.

After talking to various league and team executives, the shift was inevitable. Ultimately, the league’s 32 owners will decide between the two stadium sites and the three teams. Any team wishing to relocate – or in this case get approval for their L.A. stadium – needs 24 votes of approval.

The ball, then, is beginning its slow roll into the owners court.

Upon doing more poking around, I was told the inevitable shift will likely result in more and more owners articulating their positions moving forward. With owners across the league getting more up-to-date with the two L.A. area projects – and influence being shifted more and more to them – there is more of a comfort level with articulating their positions and perhaps a need or motivation to politic for their preferred outcome.

That process is ongoing, as was illustrated by a recent report in Pro Football Talk suggesting a group of influential owners led by Carolina’s Jerry Richardson is more in favor of the Raiders and Chargers Carson project annd against the Rams’ proposed move to Inglewood.

That is significant, as Richardson is a member of the NFL’s six-owner L.A. owners committee.

As PFT wrote:

As one source put it, Richardson and other owners view the Chargers and Raiders as more eligible to move under the league’s relocation policy, especially since it appears that St. Louis has cobbled together a viable plan for building a new stadium and keeping the Rams in the place they’ve been for the last 20 years.

Also, a move by the Chargers, who have tried for more than a decade to build a new stadium in San Diego, is viewed as the least disruptive to existing fan bases.

In response to a request for comment from PFT, Richardson said only that “we have every reason to believe that re-entry of the NFL into the Los Angeles market will be successful.”

The sense I get is this is all part of the process, and it will be more prevalent going into next week’s owners meeting in New York and certainly in the aftermath.

I’ve been told next week’s owners meeting may yield more pronounced opinions from some owners relative to a prefered stadium site.

The factors that will come into play are site preference, relocation guidelines, long-range vision for Los Angeles, and the common sense in solving the Chargers and Raiders long-term stadium issues with a California-based solution.

As such, you can expect more stories surfacing that prop up or disparage either Inglewood or Carson as well as stories that shift the narrative to guidelines.

It’s all part of the game.

One thing that might also become more clear is what role the six-owner L.A. owners committee will take in terms of shaping direction. And that is a key aspect.

One of the few things all three teams seem to agree on is that the committee is sympathetic to Dean Spanos’ difficulty getting a stadium done on San Diego, and therefor more in favor of Carson . The question is, will the committee be viewed as one voice or as six individual votes among 32 total votes?

I’ve gotten conflicting opinions on the committees role, ranging from:

  1. Past history suggests owners typically follow the lead of the the lead committee.
  2. This situation is so unique – you rarely get an owner vs. owner issue – so the committee’s recommendation might not count as much as in past decisions.

In any event, this is all to be expected in such a volatile process.


A quick refresher on Carson stadium financing

I’ve been getting some questions recently about the financing mechanisms in place for the Chargers and Raiders Carson project, and the responsibility of the city of Carson.

The concern, of course, is what Carson might be on the hook for and whether Carson will be responsible for any shortfall in the future should anything go sour.

It’s a valid concern, of course. And over the last few months I’ve talked with people in the know on the city end and from the Raiders and Chargers. The good news is, Carson seems well protected.

Here is the long and short of it.


Prior to the Raiders and Chargers coming on board, the city of Carson sold bonds to cover the remaining remediation work still needed on the land involved. Those bonds have already been issued by the city and the Reclamation Authority and were independent of the stadium project. The remediation work needs to be done whether a stadium is built on that land or a shopping center goes up. Moving forward, no more bonds need to be sold.


The financing of the actual $1.7 billion project is on the teams and on Goldman Sachs, not on the city or anyone else.

In basic terms, the stadium project needs to borrow funds for construction. These borrowings will be in the form of construction loans by each teams’ StadCos and the Municipal Stadium Authority. Goldman will provide the constructions loan. The loans are secured only by football stadium revenues.


If the teams are wrong about the amount of revenue that the stadium
will generate, then the only recourse that the lenders will have will be against the teams.

If that happens, in all likelihood the team or teams would need to sell equity to come
up with additional resources.

Failing that, the teams would have to be sold to new owners, with some
of that cash used to pay off the remaining debt.

Keep in mind, though, that this is a risk that both of the teams, and
Goldman Sachs, are willing to take.

But, if everyone is wrong, then the only recourse is against the teams.

There is no scenario where the taxpayers, or any other entity
(including the NFL) become financially responsible.

Hope that helps

The NFL to Los Angeles ball begins its roll into owners court

A subtle but significant shift is occurring in the quest to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles. And it could mean the end is in sight.

As we know, three teams have officially attached themselves to two Los Angeles area stadium projects – both of which have been approved by local leaders and both now await league approval to begin construction.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a privately financed stadium in Inglewood while the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have teamed up to build a privately financed stadium in Carson.

The NFL has said it will approve just one Los Angeles stadium project and a maximum of two teams. The league hopes to decide by the end of the year what stadium and which team or teams will mark the re-entry into Los Angeles after a 20-year absence.

The consensus is someone will be playing in L.A. by the 2016 season, and with the leagues 32 owners set to meet in early October in New York to talk about Los Angeles, don’t be surprised if some obvious movement occurs in which a clearer end-game picture comes into focus.

Which brings us back to the shift that’s underway.

The NFL office has essentially been in charge of the painstaking process back to Los Angeles, with league Vice President Eric Grubman the point man in that quest. Since taking over the position, Grubman’s objective was to come up with a plan to crack the L.A. market – which he achieved with the help of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders – and it was mostly left to NFL office and staff to make the moves to get the process to this point.

But very quietly, albeit noticeably, the league office is beginning to transition the process into decision-making mode, and the result is the influence of the NFL office now yields to the influence of owners.

After talking to various league and team executives, the shift was inevitable. Ultimately, the league’s 32 owners will decide between the two stadium sites and the three teams. Any team wishing to relocate – or in this case get approval for their L.A. stadium – needs 24 votes of approval.

The ball, then, is beginning its slow roll into the owners court.

Still, the timing of it has caught some people by surprise. The league rarely does anything without a specific purpose behind it. So a few eyebrows are being raised, to be sure.

And it brings up some interesting questions.

For months now, it was assumed the league would drive this process to an outcome in which all three teams came away satisfied. In other words, the league would take into consideration the recommendations and input of the NFL’s six-owner Los Angeles committee and the full ownership group, but ultimately the wishes of the league office would carry the day.

And while it still might, it’s obvious the league is now putting the matter squarely into the hands of the 32 team owners. And while the league office might have an outcome preference, it clearly doesn’t believe its role is to dictate a decision.

In other words, it’s the belief of the NFL office that the owners themselves have to make the judgments they think are best for the league.

And if that’s how it plays out, it will be fascinating to see how much power the leagues Los Angeles owners committee carries.

After doing some poking around, the feeling is the committee might be leaning in favor of the Chargers and Raiders Carson project. And while that is significant, it’s more important how that support is interpreted by other owners, many of whom rely on the committee and league staff members for information and updates.

Do the other owners view the committee as a singular voice or simply a group of individual owners carrying six of 32 possible votes?

That’s a key distinction to make, as it might dictate the direction other owners take.

After all, there are so many various layers involved and so many factors to consider.

What if St. Louis comes through with financing to help build the Rams a new stadium?

Or what if St. Louis and Missouri leaders stumble before reaching the finish line?

How does the Raiders and Chargers inability to get traction on local stadium projects after years and years of trying play in to a decision?

It’s certainly not as simple as just picking Inglewood over Carson

Let’s also not forget that somehow, someway this might still fall into the hands of the league office. If the vote ends up in a stalemate, you have to figure NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be the ultimate tiebreaker. If so, Goodell could step in and convince enough owners to flip sides to give either Inglewood or Carson the necessary support.

The question being, is Roger Goodell an Inglewood guy or a Carson guy?

But then, maybe it never comes to that point.

Stay tuned.

Raiders owner Mark Davis opens up

Tip of the hat Bay Area college Tim Kawakami, who got Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis to open up about where things stand in his stadium pursuit in Oakland and the progress being made with the Raiders joint stadium plan in Carson with the San Diego Chargers.

I urge you to read the entire interview, which you can see here.

Davis touched on a number of subjects, but one that caught my eye was the comparison he made bewteen the progress the Raiders and Chargers have made in Carson compared to the non progress in Oakland:

“If you make a comparison to what’s going on down south… in six months, we’ve purchased a parcel of land, we’ve gotten the financing, we’ve got through the development process, and worked with the political people, and we’re to the point where we’re just about ready to get to work. That’s in six months.

“And in, what, 10 years of discussions with people in Oakland, we don’t even have a parcel of land that we know for sure is going to be the place we can build. We don’t have one person that we know can make a deal, we don’t even know who we’re supposed to talk to. They keep changing.

“We don’t know who to negotiate with. I’m serious.

“So that’s a pretty big difference, I’d say, between the two locations right now. But we still are focused on getting something done in Oakland.”

I’ve always taken Davis at his word that he’s still focused on getting something done in Oakland, but it’s abundantly clear that Carson is the only viable stadium alternative to consider. And until something changes in Oakland, the Raiders are full steam ahead in their Los Angeles pursuits.