St. Louis suffers setback, potential progress for Raiders in stadium fights

Three days before the NFL opens its annual owners meetings in Phoenix, there are a few Los Angeles related relocation updates coming from St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland and Los Angeles.

And while nothing is expected to dramatically move forward relative to any L.A. relocation when owners and league officials gather in the Valley of the Sun Sunday through Wednesday, you can be sure Los Angeles will be a hot topic of discussion.

Here are the updates, and it’s a mixed bag to be sure:


With the Raiders and Chargers teaming up to build a stadium together in Carson pending developments in their current cities, it looks like the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda are taking notice – and action.

In fact, a deal that looked dead just a few months ago to develop the land where the Raiders currently play in Oakland now looks very much alive.

Oakland’s City Council will vote on Friday on new exclusive negotiating agreement between the city, county and New City Development LLC, the group led by Floyd Kephart pushing the Coliseum City project that includes new stadiums for the Raiders and Oakland Athletics.

Meanwhile, the County of Alameda will vote on the same agreement next Tuesday.

This represents a significant step forward, as the the city of Oakland and county of Alameda jointly own the land but for years have been at odds with each other. The fact they are potentially willing to work with one another could expedite the $1.5 billion, 200-acre stadium aspect of the project.

The sense I get talking to city and county leaders is they are ready to move fast on this.

If the city and county agree on the ENA, Kephart can finally approach the Raiders with assurances the city and county are on board with land use. That doesn’t mean the Raiders are assured of getting their desired 55,000-seat stadium, and at some point Kephart must address financing and reveal his investors, but by next Tuesday a huge obstacle might be cleared.


While the task force assigned by Mayor Kevin Faulconer has settled on the Mission Valley site to examine a new stadium for the Chargers – and seems confident a plan can be put in place by May – there remains deep concern within the Chargers offices relative to the ancillary financing mechanisms likely in place and the lengthy process involved in getting a mixed-use development entitled.

That means Carson is very much in play as a long-range option. Perhaps as soon as January 1, when teams are allowed to file for relocation.

The Chargers simply have no time to wait on a prolonged process getting Mission Valley entitled – with or without the St. Louis Rams involvement in Inglewood.

There is still time – albeit running out – and it will be fascinating to see what the task force presents to the mayor in May.

The sense I get talking to insiders on both sides is San Diego is in quite the pickle getting something done in time to extend the Chargers stay beyond next year. There is hope on the city’s side, but the Chargers are skeptical.


St. Louis’ hopes of keeping the Rams were dealt a significant setback Thursday when the Missouri Senate passed a measure forbidding Gov. Jay Nixon from extending bonds for a new NFL stadium without a vote. The measure now moves to the Missouri House.

Considering Gov. Nixon’s two-man task force recommended that as much as $350 million of the $1 billion needed for a new, open-air stadium come from the bond extension – and the seemingly slim chance Missouri leaders and voters will now support such a bond in a vote – the challenge will be coming up with new financing, should the measure be ratified by the House.

If not, Rams owner Stan Kroenke could essentially walk to Inglewood, where he is proposing a privately financed football stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park race track.

Grab your popcorn, race to L.A. between Chargers, Raiders, Rams about to get crazy

CARSON — Word of advice for all the fans out their rooting for the NFL to return to Los Angeles: Get the popcorn, grab a comfy seat on the sofa and settle in for a wild ride.

We are headed for a crazy finish, to say the least.

The good news is Los Angeles will soon have pro football back for the fist time in 20 years. Most likely by 2016.

What’s undecided is who the team — or teams — will be, exactly.

Last month it looked like it might be the St. Louis Rams after owner Stan Kroenke announced he was teaming with a California-based developer to build a football stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park race track.

Back home in St. Louis, local leaders went into scramble mode to get a new stadium deal in place to keep the Rams in Missouri. But the Rams’ lukewarm reaction indicated a strong desire to bolt to L.A.

Welcome back, Rams.

Now we can’t be sure.

Kroenke didn’t exactly pull the trigger on a starter’s gun with the explosive bombshell he dropped, but he might as well have.

The result was a chain reaction felt all the way from Missouri to San Diego to Oakland. And now that the Raiders and Chargers have announced a partnership to build a shared stadium in Carson, we have a high-stakes race on our hands in which unlikely alliances have been forged, the football fate of four cities hanging in the balance and the NFL unable sit back and let the chips fall where they may.

Read full column here.

Raider fans showed up. Press conference in Carson to announce stadium proposal to lure 2NFL teams to the city. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

Raider fans showed up. Press conference in Carson to announce stadium proposal to lure two NFL teams to the city. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

What is St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke thinking?

By Vincent Bonsignore

One of the truly intriguing developments as far as the NFL returning to Los Angeles is the utter silence of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

“Silent Sam” – his nickname these days in St. Louis – has not uttered a substantive word ever since the Edward Jones Dome was deemed by arbitrators in need of $700 million dollars worth of renovations to bring it up to the contractually agreed upon threshold to lock the Rams into the remaining 10 years of the lease they signed upon moving to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1995.

St. Louis has neither the means nor appetite to pay that kind of money to renovate the Edward Jones Dome, and the Rams are free to break their lease at the end of the season as a result.

We now know they aren’t leaving St. Louis for at least one year, but while city and state leaders arduously work toward coming up with a financing plan to build the Rams a suitable alternative stadium, Kroenke has yet to publicly state whether his preference is to remain in St. Louis long term or move to Los Angeles, where he recently purchased a parcel of land that some think he will use to build a new stadium.

His silence is unnerving in St. Louis, and the locals wonder the prudence of committing tax dollars to someone who hasn’t yet declared his true intentions.

Especially after getting burned on the original deal with the Rams 20 years ago and handing almost all control to the team.

Chances are, Kroenke is simply masterfully playing St. Louis and Missouri to get a new long-term stadium plan, but even if his plan is to bolt for Los Angeles he is putting himself in a vulnerable position.

Based on everyone I’ve talked to, the NFL truly covets the St. Louis and surrounding markets. And there is respected political leadership in Missouri and substantial local advertising dollars that translates nationally on a league level – hello, Anheuser-Busch – that motivates everyone to make it work in St. Louis.

As a result, it’s hard to believe Kroenke getting the necessary support within the NFL to leave for Los Angeles if St. Louis and Missouri present him with a suitable stadium plan.

Part of the parameters for relocation is proving things can’t work out locally after significant time was put it seeking a long-term stadium deal to stay put.

If St. Louis and Missouri step up to the plate, that negates that argument for leaving.

My gut feeling is Kroenke fully intends to stay in St. Louis and his silence is simply part of the negotiating game. But if he is thinking bigger, he might have problems on his had at a league level.

Why NFL putting kibosh on L.A. in 2015 might be good news

By Vincent Bonsignore

We’ll probably never know just how close an NFL team actually came to pulling the trigger on moving to Los Angeles for the 2015 season, but whether you are optimistic or pessimistic that something is truly cooking on the L.A. front one thing can not be ignored: If nothing is cooking, why the big production on the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and the league office publicly putting the brakes on anyone leaving for the second-biggest market at the end of the current season?

That’s why, if you are hopeful of the NFL returning to Los Angeles soon the very public announcement it won’t be next season should be taken positively rather than negatively.

After all, why the big to-do over something that wasn’t close to happening?

Something is absolutely going on, and based on the information I am getting it’s all pointing to two teams re-locating together in 2016 and eventually sharing a stadium built in conjunction with the NFL and private financiers.

This represents a significant shift in the approach to binging the NFL back, as it would solve the question of who will build and finance the stadium while eliminating one of the major hurdles impeding a team moving to Los Angeles.

There is a reason why AEG’s Farmers Field project hasn’t yet come to fruition: The man footing the bill for the $2 billion stadium – Phil Anschutz – wants to buy a significant part of the team re-locating here in order to help recoup a return on his investment.

That was the obstacle that put the kibosh on the Chargers potentially moving here two years ago. The Bolts want a new stadium, but not at the expense of a major chunk of their team. Dean Spanos told Anschutz thanks but no thanks, and that was that.

Spanos might soon be looking at a very different road map to Los Angeles.

If the NFL stepped in along with AEG to build the stadium, then brought two teams to play there, it would negate the need for Anschutz to buy into a team. He’d make his money back – and then some – by leasing Farmers Field to both teams and collecting income through naming rights, advertising, signage, corporate sponsorships and suite sales and all the other ways privately owned stadiums make money these days.

Much like he does with Staples Center.

In the meantime, Spanos gets a new stadium for his Chargers but also maintains full ownership.

Problem solved, right?

As a source told me Sunday, that seems to be where this is heading.

The question now is, which two teams are coming?

For the moment, let’s set the Rams aside as a potential candidate. There is significant momentum building in St. Louis for the Rams to remain in Missouri. The NFL covets the St. Louis and surrounding market, a significant advertising partner is based there in Anheuser-Busch and there is powerful state leadership in place to make a deal with Rams owner Stan Kroenke on a new stadium.

Not saying the Rams are out of the picture, but if state and city leadership steps up to the plate with a viable plan – and momentum is building for that to happen – Kroenke will have no justification for relocation.

The Raiders and Chargers, on the other hand, are not in ideal positions to get something done in Oakland and San Diego and while both re-upped for 2015 at their respective stadiums the clock is already ticking on two plans coming together over the next 12 months to keep them there long-term.

If you are a Chargers or Raiders fan the hope is someone finally steps up with viable stadium deals over the next year.

And that might absolutely happen.

But more and more, you get the feeling both teams are biding their time locally while also keeping an eye on Los Angeles.

Bottom line, four cities are on the clock: St. Louis, Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles. And with the NFL potentially extending a helping hand in Los Angeles, a whole bunch of hurdles will be eliminated.