The NFL has finally spoken about the St. Louis Rams stadium situation, and by “the NFL” I mean designated stadium grubber Eric Grubman, and by “spoken” I mean “issued ultimatums that without a new stadium, the Rams will move somewhere else, though the league doesn’t plan on them moving, because they expect to get a new stadium, capisce?”
League officials are not considering such a move [of the Rams to Los Angeles], Grubman said.
“We’re looking for a solution to the St. Louis Rams to be the St. Louis Rams, not for some other team to be the St. Louis Rams,” he said.
Is a stadium necessary for that solution?
“Yes,” Grubman said.
And a stadium, Grubman made clear, means a fully signed, sealed, and delivered stadium, not just a plan for one:
The NFL’s role, he said, is to help give the St. Louis effort “the best chance possible.”
The north riverfront proposal, he said, isn’t yet real.
“A real plan means that the steps are all actionable,” he said. “If you need authorities, you’ve assembled those authorities. If you need land, you’ve assembled that land.” …
“I don’t want to put any lines in the sand,” he said. “… But what we’ve talked about is we really ought to be assembling this plan this calendar year. Which doesn’t mean Dec. 31.”
So the NFL is clear: Unless a St. Louis stadium is approved this year, and not late this year, but not that there’s a firm deadline or anything, then the Rams are totally moving somewhere, but the league isn’t thinking about that. Yet.
Once again, this is a non-threat threat that it’s impossible to know whether to take seriously, because Grubman would be saying the exact same thing in each of several scenarios:
- Rams owner Stan Kroenke wants to go to L.A., the league doesn’t want him to, and Grubman has been sent out to shake loose a St. Louis stadium offer that Kroenke can’t refuse so that both sides can go away happy.
- Kroenke wants to go to L.A. and the league is fine with it, but Grubman has been sent to shake loose a St. Louis stadium because more options are always good, if only to turn up the heat on Inglewood voters to stop asking questions about the stadium plan there and just approve it in a referendum already.
- Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium plan is a bluff, and Grubman is trying to make it an effective bluff by telling St. Louis, “We’ll pull the trigger, don’t test us.”
Each of these is completely plausible, given what we know now. The only way to tell which is true will be if Missouri officials (or voters) reject stadium deal, and we’ll see whether Kroenke and Grubman really shoot the dog, or slink back to St. Louis with their tail between their legs, as we’ve seen happen before.