The St. Louis Rams stadium battle — and by extension, that of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, the two teams whose owners are competing with the Rams’ Stan Kroenke to move to Los Angeles — is reaching peak craziness. All this happened since Friday:
- The St. Louis board of aldermen approved the city’s share of a $477 million subsidy package for a new $1 billion Rams stadium, including a scheme by which the city would kick back stadium taxes to the team, in exchange for the NFL upping its contribution from $200 million to $300 million.
- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent Missouri stadium point person Dave Peacock a strongly-worded letter saying that the NFL putting in an extra $100 million was “fundamentally inconsistent with the NFL’s program of stadium financing” and complaining that he’d failed to pass this along to the board.
- NBC Sports’ Mike Florio reported that “a source with knowledge of the situation” told him the idea for the extra $100 million was proposed by two members of the NFL’s own Los Angeles relocation committee. (Under this plan, the added money would come off the top of L.A. relocation fees.) Florio didn’t know which of the six committee members were responsible — both Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Texans owner Bob McNair are on record as supporting the Chargers’ and Raiders’ competing L.A. plan, but it could have been any of them — but given that Goodell’s letter specifically stated that “each of these owners” on the committee supported making clear that the extra money isn’t on the table, it sounds like there’s some epic in-fighting going on in the NFL board room.
- CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported, citing “numerous well-connected ownership sources,” that if Kroenke is denied the chance to move to Los Angeles, he could consider either moving to London or buying the Denver Broncos and selling the Rams to someone who’d keep them in St. Louis. Either of which could happen, sure, but these could also be NFL sources trying to keep up the pressure on St. Louis to commit more stadium money even as momentum seems to have swung slightly toward Kroenke not being the L.A. lottery winner.
I’m still putting my money on nothing at all getting decided in January, if only because of the increasing indications that there are various NFL owner factions trying to work their own angles to influence the ultimate decision. Remember, any final ruling requires 24 out of 32 owners to agree on it, and Goodell is going to have to do a much better job of herding cats to get three-quarters of owners to even agree on what to order for lunch, let alone an L.A. decision. Rams fans may have to wait a bit longer to find out if Thursday’s game was their last one in St. Louis ever.