The owners of the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders all formally applied to relocate to Los Angeles yesterday, something that got reported on by pretty much every news outlet on the planet. Of course, this is just a formality — even if they get approval, it doesn’t mean they have to move — and something we’ve known for more than two months they were going to do, so calm down, people, okay?
Way more interesting is the report — by “NFL Media Insider” Ian Rapoport on the NFL’s own NFL Network, which is as close to an official leak as you’re likely to get — that the NFL has set its relocation fee at $550 million per team that moves to L.A. That’s in line with what was reported a couple of months ago too, but it was crazy-high even then, considering that this would come on top of having to spend close to $2 billion on stadium construction before selling your first ticket.
I can currently think of at least seven possible reasons why the NFL picked this price point:
- Los Angeles is such an incredible cash cow for anybody who plays there, despite the NFL not offering the change to cash in on local cable deals and L.A. not being a real hotbed for high-ticket PSL buyers or anything, that the other owners figure this is a reasonable price.
- None of the competing owners see what’s in it for them if any of these other guys get to move to L.A. — national TV ratings probably won’t budge much if people in L.A. are watching local teams instead of the best national games — so they’re figuring, “Hell, if we’re going to go through all the trouble of figuring out who gets to move, at least we can make sure we get paid.”
- Nobody really wants anybody to move to L.A., so they’ve set a price so ridiculously high that no one will bite.
- Somebody realized that the easiest way to determine a winner when three people are fighting for two spots is to see who’s willing to pay the most to bribe the judges.
- They need extra money to pay off whoever doesn’t get to move to shut him up.
- They need extra money to help fund a stadium for whoever doesn’t get to move.
- It won’t really be $550 million, once they invent some special revenue-sharing credit for teams that play within 50 miles of a major tar pit or something.
There are probably more, but I’ll leave those as an exercise for readers. Meantime, I just finished a longer writeup of all the possible outcomes of next week’s NFL owners meetings (including the rapidly rising dark horse candidate “nothing”) for Vice Sports — point your browser there and keep refreshing for the next few hours if you want to hear more from me on this.
[UPDATE: You can quit refreshing now, the article is up here.]