NFL owners set January vote on L.A. move, probably still won’t be able to pick winner by then

The NFL owners held another one of their closed-door meetings on relocating teams to Los Angeles yesterday, but hoo boy, did the fireworks ever spill out into public:

  • The owners set a December 28 deadline for St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland to make their final stadium offers, and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and New York Giants owner Steve Tisch said they hope for an owners’ vote on which team(s) will move on January 12 or 13 — though, of course, setting arbitrary deadlines and then moving them back is standard operating procedure for sports leagues. (Also, when asked by the L.A. Times if a final vote would really happen in January, Tisch replied, “I’ve lost all my psychic powers. Especially regarding this subject.”)
  • Houston Texans owner Bob McNair warned St. Louis officials that they need to “firm up” their stadium plan for the Rams if they want it to be considered by the league — an apparent attempt to get the St. Louis board of aldermen to vote on the stadium funding bill next week before it goes on holiday break, under pain of being told “Sorry, too late.”
  • Rams owner Stan Kroenke has reiterated that he’d be open to sharing an Inglewood stadium with the Chargers. That would eliminate the Chargers’ planned Carson stadium (if  Chargers owner Dean Spanos went for it) and leave the Raiders stuck in Oakland — or more likely, negotiating with St. Louis to try to grab whatever deal Kroenke left on the table there.

Put all the tea leaves together, and this certainly sounds like the NFL is trying to negotiate a deal that makes the maximum number of league parties happy: Kroenke gets to go to L.A. and gets another team to help him pay his $1.86 billion stadium bill (via an equity stake or rent payments, it doesn’t matter); Spanos gets to stop having to fight with San Diego for stadium subsidies, even if it means playing second fiddle to Kroenke; and Raiders owner Mark Davis … well, nobody really cares about Mark Davis, but at least he can have St. Louis as a fallback plan — which would also mean that the NFL wouldn’t be entirely throwing away that offer of public stadium cash, just pushing back the timeline a bit on how long to take to shake it loose.

As always, though, it’s important to remember that “the NFL” isn’t really a single entity, but rather 32 rich guys trying to hash out a deal. It’s possible that this one will make enough people happy that they can get the necessary three-quarters majority to approve it — or it could be that the room remains splintered, or talks break down over how much of a relocation fee to demand from any owners who move, or any of a number of different things. In fact:

“It’s hard to see one of the proposals as getting 24 votes,” Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters on Wednesday, adding: “I don’t think we’re extremely close right now.”

Maybe it’s time we crowdsource the likely outcome here — anyone want to start up a betting line on which teams move? Though the only way to accurately predict it would probably be a betting line only open to NFL owners, so scrap that idea. I’m going back to throwing darts at the wall.

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15 comments on “NFL owners set January vote on L.A. move, probably still won’t be able to pick winner by then

  1. I think your second bullet point is most important, Neil.

    This alleged deadline is about nothing but turning St. Louis taxpayers upside down and seeing what falls out of their pockets.

    Not sure I’d be willing to bet on any outcome given the nature of the group making the decision, but the outcome that leaves the league’s options most open are to allow Kroenke to move to LA (probably without exclusive rights to the market, the NFL would continue to notionally “own” the right to a second franchise there without having to pay Kroenke anything for the split) and do nothing else.

    Once either the Chargers or Raiders are announced as a ‘second’ (possibly tenant) LA team, all hope of welfare from the taxpayers of San Diego, Oakland and possibly St. Louis are gone. The 32 apostles won’t like that idea at all.

    Last point: If either Davis or Spanos ends up as a rent paying tenant, aren’t they prevented from accessing the G4 fund under current rules? Don’t they have to, as with Jets/Giants, contribute equity up front to gain access to the fund?

    Of course… when the 32 1%ers are the ones making the rules, it is not hard to see the rules being flexible if need be… I could see an amendment that rules out league funding for any owner who drives a 1997 minivan, for example. That seems perfectly reasonable…

  2. The hopes for the Carson project are right up there with:

    1. Farmers Field
    2. City of Industry (Ed Roski)
    3. City of Lynwood
    4. Renovated LA Coliseum
    5. The Hacienda (Carson)
    6. Dodger Stadium conversion

  3. John: i don’t think the NFL could force a tenant on Kroenke later, if only because he could just refuse to accept anything less than an exorbitant rent.

    And while I see your point on givimg up on subsidies from SD/OAK/STL, 1) the first two aren’t offering anything all that sweet, 2) the Raiders can always play those cities off against each other, and 3) there’s always expansion.

    As for G-4, according to its original bylaws it’s not even supposed to be available for relocating teams, so yeah, they’re pretty much making it up as they go along anyway.

  4. had betting odds on who would move first a month or so ago. The Rams were at -180, and the Chargers and Raiders were at about +300 or +400.

    The conventional wisdom seems to be Rams and Chargers in Inglewood with the Raiders using their status as free agents to play multiple cities off each other. Kroenke has enough votes to block Carson, so the only way Spanos gets to go to LA is if he makes a deal with Kroenke and gets those votes, and the only way that’ll happen is if he joins him in Inglewood. He has to choose between Inglewood or San Diego, there is no Carson. Davis has been open to non-LA options, so he’ll probably take some payout to miss LA and enjoy being a free agent.

  5. Fair point, Neil, but the NFL could force Kroenke to agree to the terms under which a tenant franchise would operate as part of this agreement (in fact, I would imagine that would be a significant part of this negotiation), leaving him no real option to balk later.

    There definitely are options re: expansion, but at some point even the NFL is going to have to realize there aren’t all that many chairs left at the table. To make musical chairs work, the only real rule is that you need more players than chairs.

    In NFL terms, I’m not sure there are that there aren’t as many chairs as there are players once LA is “gone”. That’s not to say they can’t artificially create demand somewhere (they’ve done it before), but it is difficult to see where this might be done AND have the market joining not be a drag on the others.

    Future tv deals may provide increased revenue for the owners, but until those kick in expansion means splitting the existing pie more ways. Even for a healthy fee that has to seem like a zero sum game to the 32.

  6. neil:

    You gave me a good chuckle today:

    “…and Raiders owner Mark Davis … well, nobody really cares about Mark Davis.”

    So true. I think he and the Raiders are the kid at school you don’t want to invite to your birthday party but sorta have to b/c you parents are good friends.

    Can’t wait to see what Oakland comes up with. Hopefully its a Xmas stocking full of coal.

  7. As a long-time Chargers fan, also known as a glutton for punishment, I hate to see them go. But before I completely give up hope there are a couple of questions that I need to ask.

    In his offer to share, Kroenke specifically said he would not share in any of the redevelopment money from the surrounding area. If the second team can’t share in G-4 money and money from the supposed area redevelopment funds–and then have to pay a 500-million dollar relocation fee, how does this possibly make sense?

    And what about things like stadium naming rights and ancillary advertising inside the stadium?

    Maybe I’m just hoping for a miracle, but then again I’m a Chargers fan so I’ve been hoping for that for decades.

  8. So much at play here:

    1. If only the Rams move they will eat into some of San Diego’s draw from OC/LA counties. The Chargers claim around 20% of people at the stadium each Sunday is from either of those counties. I’m not sure if it’s that high, but the Rams would eat into whatever amount of people come down here to see the Charger.
    2. The Rams, while the plan is not “firm”, it is the best of the 3 current on-the-table possibilities. Oakland has essentially nothing and San Diego’s relies on a vote that by all accounts will fail (+ it won’t happen until at least June). San Diego’s plan in Mission Valley isn’t bad, it’s just not what the Chargers want apparently (plus they fear the vote too) and maybe not what the taxpayer wants.
    3. Only the Rams doesn’t work because of the point above and that the NFL would be left with 2 cities in “longshot stadium mode” as I call it – the NFL doesn’t want to move a bunch of teams around. What happens if only the Rams go? What happens to the stadium problems in Oakland here in San Diego?

    Do they take 2 teams with the lowest possibility of getting a stadium done in their cities and move them to LA? The fact is I think all 3 will do well there and the owners will get more filthy rich. It’s a matter of not leaving teams behind in markets that will force the NFL’s hand to make more relocations occur (which they don’t want to do).

    Or is the best option is to have the Rams and Chargers together? The Raiders could move to STL or where ever, but I think over time that stadium situation will resolve itself. I know there are troubles with building something with the A’s or playing in Santa Clara with the 49ers, but it just seems like it’ll work itself out. I may be 100% wrong… it’s just a feeling I get.

  9. SD: Do you think the Rams moving to Inglewood would reduce Chargers support from OC as much as, for example, the Carson location would have?

    I get that it is closer (mileage wise) even in Inglewood, but I wonder if the OC crowd aren’t more interested in travelling south. I’ve never lived there (only visited a couple of times), but it seems quite a bit easier to get south to SD than across to Inglewood… even outside of rush hour traffic.

  10. Our annual move to Leverage Angeles is shaping up to be a barnburner! We’re thinking about putting up a Gofundme page to help pay for the shiny new palace. We just have to hire a p.r. flack to put out heartfelt social media updates – help 32 billionaires build a new home! The champagne is on ice…

  11. Where is this $500 to $600 million relocation fee story coming from? Sounds like BS to me. The Oilers, Rams, and Ravens paid $29 million. So an expansion team is going to cost $11 billion to $14 billion? Hahaha

    One team can’t afford a $1.86 billion stadium, more BS. None of the 3 teams will come close to the 49ers $530 million from psls and they are paying $25 million a year in rent on a $1.3 billion stadium after Santa Clara kicked in money.

  12. I read the Inglewood stadium would be privately owned that means PSL and naming rights income gets hit with federal and state income taxes. Ouch. Paying property tax every year on a $2 billion stadium should be fun.

    Throwing away $500 million is no big deal, I hear Kroenke’s rich, someone should tell Arsenal fans.

  13. Kroenke is playing his cards right. If Spanos is smart he’ll hitch his wagon on the shared Inglewood plan and together with Kroenke will horse trade with the rest of the owners to do over Mr. Davis and the raiders and get the move to go forward.Think about it.What other ownership besides the Davis family has tried so hard to go against the nfl for the last 45 years? As for Mark Davis and the Raiders hey you guys could of chosen Santa Clara when you had the chance although putting up tarps to cover seats and avoid a blackout would of been interesting to see to say the least. Don’t think St. Louis would support the Raiders;San Antonio maybe. The Rams belong back in southern California and if the Chargers are wise they’ll jump on board as well.

  14. Pauley

    Carson is a much better stadium plan with room for tailgating for the fans, practice facilities for the teams, and 8 acres dedicated to NFL network and a west coast HOF. They have a Stadium Authority that will save the Raiders and Chargers over $500 million in taxes. It’s no contest.

    Kroenke isn’t building a stadium in Inglewood he’s building a 100,000 square foot Walmart as the cornerstone of his Inglewood Retail Center. You’ll see in 6 weeks. Read the initiatives.

  15. @Ben(_evolent)

    You’re 100% right! The entire Inglewood plan has been nothing but a farce, leverage for Stan to get a better deal in The Loo, and his real plan has been a new Inglewood Wal-Mart all along.

    Last week when Kroenke sent that letter to the NFL announcing that he’d let Spanos be his partner in Inglewood was all a ploy by Kroenke, Spanos, and the NFL. Goodell, Grubman, the LA Committee and all of the other owners know what Kroenke’s scheme is and they are all just playing along. Why can’t everyone else see this as clearly as you, Ben(_evolent)?

    Clearly this is one massive scam being perpetrated on The Loo by Kroenke and the NFL. Your theory is airtight. Kroenke never planned to move the team to LA and never will.

    Meanwhile, the idea that Kroenke has already been given the green light and all of the delays have only been put in place to A) help sell a few bargain basement priced tickets in The Loo to a lethargic, disinterested fan base by not announcing the team’s imminent move and B) to apply leverage to both Oakland and San Diego to build stadiums for their current teams is ABSOLUTELY PREPOSTEROUS!

    Keep fighting the good fight Ben(_evolent) you are the only voice of reason around here.

    Hey, how about we meet at the Inglewood Wally World the day it opens? My vacation plans are always Wally World tours and I’m sure yours are too. Save me a seat at the Mc Donald’s! We’d better bring our own water since the LA Kooks are all about to die of thirst LOL! We can sit and laugh at the LA Kooks and call them (firetruck) morons as their broke-@zz state goes bankrupt.

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