The latest developments in the ongoing NFL-to-L.A. trainwreck:
- Inglewood Mayor James Butts told a local newspaper that Stan Kroenke was going to build a stadium in his city whether or not he got permission to move the St. Louis Rams there, figuring he could use it for Super Bowls and World Cup soccer matches.
- Butts backtracked, and said he never actually said that.
- The Rams released their relocation application, in which they, in the inimitable words of Deadspin, “shit all over the city of St. Louis.” Example: “Compared to all other U.S. cities, St. Louis is struggling.” (All! Great news, Detroit!) Also: “Any NFL Club that signs on to this [St. Louis stadium] proposal will be well on the road to financial ruin.”
- Vice Sports posted my bettor’s guide to which teams will move to Los Angeles late yesterday afternoon, in case you missed it.
Let’s focus in on that Rams relocation application, which has been garnering lots of headlines, albeit not many with quite as memorable an image as Deadspin’s. This, it’s important to remember, is the equivalent of a lawyer’s closing statement: You want to throw every argument you can at the jury to make your case, even if you know the reality isn’t so black and white. So it’s entirely possible that Stan Kroenke doesn’t hate St. Louis quite that strongly in real life, but if he admitted that it’s anything less than a hellhole, he’s risking leaving some other NFL owners with reasonable doubt about his need to move to Inglewood.
But! There is one other factor here, which is that Kroenke chose to release this to the public, rather than just submitting it in secrecy to the league like the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders did. This seems a pretty clear example of public bridge-burning, and the most concrete evidence we have yet that Kroenke wants to go to L.A. by any means necessary, and at any cost.
If so, the whole L.A. chase starts to fall into a bit clearer focus: Kroenke, for whatever reasons lie deep in his billionaire lizard brain, desperately wants to be the owner of the Los Angeles Rams rather than the St. Louis Rams, even if it means putting down around $1.5 billion for a stadium. (Discounting his infrastructure tax rebates and NFL G-4 money here.) Chargers owner Dean Spanos, not wanting to have to play second fiddle in SoCal for all eternity, jumps in with his own offer. Raiders owner Mark Davis, getting nowhere at anything, happily agrees to jump on board Spanos’s bandwagon. The other NFL owners, sensing an opportunity, decide to demand a crazy-high relocation fee, because you don’t get if you don’t ask, right? At which point it becomes like one of those Cutthroat Kitchen bidding wars where nobody wants to back down for fear of being the one left out in cold, and suddenly you find you’ve just spent $15,000 on a cup of soy sauce.
That’s my leading theory right now, anyway. As to who’ll end up the “winner” and who’ll end up having to build a new stadium in their existing city while wearing a suit of armor, your guess is as good as mine.