NFL finally officially admits that, yes, some teams are threatening to move to L.A.

Don’t look now, but NFL VP for Stadium Extortion Eric Grubman has actually said the R-word with regard to the St. Louis Rams:

A National Football League executive briefed team owners Monday, for the first time as a group, on competing stadium proposals that could send the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, including key steps “between now and any eventual relocation.”…

“This is the first time with membership that we’ve been able to be relatively open and transparent as to what was going on,” Grubman said after he presented at the NFL’s annual owners meeting at the historic Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix.

Outstanding! So now for NFL owners who are unable to read the papers, Grubman has spelled out that it’s Rams owner Stan Kroenke who’s threatening to go to Inglewood, and San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis who are threatening to go to Carson.

What the rest of us would no doubt hope the NFL would be more “open and transparent” about is whether these planned L.A.-area stadiums are serious or just bluffs, or serious bluffs intended to shake loose stadium deals from their hometowns but which they’re willing to go through with, maybe, if left with no better alternatives. And Grubman at least hinted at number three, sorta kinda maybe in part:

Grubman emphasized that home markets would have a chance to pitch their own proposals before a decision is made to move any team to Los Angeles.

“The last thing I’d want is for a relocation proposal to come forward, and a home market to say, ‘Wait. You told us we had another few months,’” Grubman said. “I don’t want to do that.”

For all of these owners, there are two major hurdles to clear if they really want to move: finding the money to build new stadiums in L.A. without losing their shirts, and getting approval from the NFL’s other owners to do so. Both are going to be difficult, in different ways: Even in a big market like L.A., coming up with enough revenue to pay off close to $2 billion in stadium debt is a tough nut, and getting 24 of 32 NFL owners to agree on anything, especially when you know that the teams you’d be shutting out of moving to L.A. in your stead will vote no, takes a lot of tricky campaigning. With the next window for relocations coming up next winter, expect most of this year to be taken up with behind-the-scenes work lobbying for support among NFL owners, while waiting to see what San Diego, Oakland, and St. Louis propose as alternatives. There is much, much haggling yet to be done, in other words, so it’s pointless even to read tea leaves now.

14 comments on “NFL finally officially admits that, yes, some teams are threatening to move to L.A.

  1. It would be funny if all 3 ended up moving. Have NFL stadiums finally outpriced themselves for their own markets? Curious, why would an owner (say Green Bay or Chicago) vote against the move? Or is it teams that want a new stadium vow to keep Los Angeles open?

  2. @MP34

    Perhaps it has something to do with competition (especially for a super bowl and free agents)? I’m guessing, but it’s the first thing that came to mind.

    It’s odd that LA has been without the NFL for 20 years – if it’s so desirable I would have figured someone would have gone there by now. It is however a big enough market that a team can leverage it against their current city. There isn’t another US-based market that can draw a threat like LA can. If 2 teams end up in LA it’ll be interesting to see how teams who want new stadiums approach the “we’re leaving if you don’t build us one” threat.

  3. “Or is it teams that want a new stadium vow to keep Los Angeles open?”

    That won’t matter. Oklahoma City is the new LA. Or maybe Omaha.

  4. Kroenke used his money to make the best stadium, best project in the best location. He is moving the Rams. SD and Oakland need to get their acts together since one is going to lose a team. Everything the NFL is doing now is to make sure that the team that can’t come to LA gets screwed as little as possible.

    Also, worth noting…. with the Rams and Raiders in separate conferences, it brings in a greater variety of opponents each season. Just like the Jets and Giants at MetLife. With the Chargers and Raiders in the same division, both KC and Denver would play there twice a season and possibly the same opponents from the NFC division designated to play the AFC West each season.

  5. Mp34: There are a million reasons. They could want to be able to threaten to move there themselves, they could not want to have their competitors be in a bigger market, they could not want a precedent set that teams are paying most of their stadium costs, they could just not like the guys who are trying to move, or be friends with people who don’t like the guys. It’s 32 rich guys in a room, it’s hard to imagine three quarters of them agreeing on anything other than lower capital gains tax rates.

  6. “Grubman emphasized that home markets would have a chance to pitch their own proposals before a decision is made to move any team to Los Angeles.”

    That’s why this is so fascinating: St. Louis wants the Rams, so they’ll unfortunately gouge themselves to make a viable proposal using public money, but the Rams (owner) wants nothing to do with them. The opposite is true with Oakland and San Diego.

  7. I haven’t yet seen any evidence that 1, 2, 3 or 4 new NFL teams in Los Angeles will be any more successful than the last few NFL teams to try and play there were 20 years ago.

    The Chargers moved _from_ LA to their current city of San Diego because LA wasn’t to their liking.

    As did the Rams, who were in LA the longest (though they moved from Los Angeles proper to Orange County for the last portion of their stay).

    And the Raiders were in Oakland, then moved to LA, then moved back. Another move to LA won’t be anything more serious than a well-heeled family moving from their estate to their summer home for the season. They’ll be back as sure as the sun comes up.

  8. @ James

    You clearly don’t understand why the Rams and Raiders left LA. It had nothing to do with fan support, they wanted new stadiums and LA taxpayers weren’t willing to pay for it. It’s the same reason the Colts, Cards, Browns, and Oilers all moved. Now cities aren’t throwing away money on stadiums like they did in the past.

    It’s ridiculous to even mention the AFL Chargers 1 season in LA. The brand new league couldn’t compete with the NFL. The Chiefs played in Dallas their first 3 years, and they moved because they couldn’t compete with the Cowboys.

  9. The Chargers or Raiders will move to the NFC if their Carson stadium is the chosen project.

  10. The Raiders and the Rams left LA after the 1994 season because of persistent lousy attendance. Why will the attendance thingy in LA be different now?

  11. After the novelty wears off is when you really see how many NFL fans there are in LA.

    The teams being so-so certainly didn’t help. Raiders and Chargers have that problem now (esp. the Raiders), and if I’m a fan of either I’d feel betrayed anyway. “We aren’t going after LA” says the Chargers, and then the Carson project is announced. Seems to me these decisions have been made already and a ploy to blame the city when the local plan “isn’t to their liking.”

  12. I’d say it’s a near certainty that the Raiders will be moving there, and I doubt they’ll have a lame-duck season in Oakland.

    Oakland will be better off without them. If they ever beg Oakland to return, I hope Oakland kicks them in the teeth.

  13. I cannot see the Raiders staying in Oakland, the A’s are more or less stuck on the current property since everything else around it is Giants territory.

    Oakland does not seem to have the funds or even the political/citizen support of keeping both teams.

    The downside for the NFL in all this is that Mark Davis is the “Hollywood” face of the league.

  14. Grubman is just part of the timeline we use to collect public stadium cash. You start with the crying about how we can’t make it in this old stadium (even if it’s only like, 20 years old). Then you do a picture of a shiny new field in L.A. You can add a nice twist like Stan did – buy some land there and start making noise about it. Then you get the locals and especially the pols, particularly governors, they are the best – they grease us over and over. Anyway, you get them scrambling to come up with a billion bucks or so for us, then you take Grubman out of his coffin and let him say a few words. Just talk at first. He is the hammer, the iron fist in the velvet glove and the more times he speaks the firmer that fist will appear to be. Finally, Grubman will come to your town to seal the deal. There will be threats and hand wringing and soap operas, and that wild night at the legislature we’ve all come to know and love.

    And then, after all of that… PUBLIC STADIUM CASH BABY! Another gilded NFL palace will soon be rising in a construction hole. And we’ll sip the champagne at the owner’s gathering like always.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of how we operate. Some of my fellow owners always tell me to stop commenting here and giving away the game. But I say hey, we’ve run the same game for 20 years now and 99% of the rubes can’t figure it out. Most of the guys here already know it, they just can’t do anything about it. So, c’est la vie.

    Ciao! – Piggy