After a long day that dragged well into evening (for East Coasters, at least), the 32 NFL owners finally voted on which teams to approve moving to Los Angeles, and the verdict was: Stan Kroenke has approval to move the St. Louis Rams immediately while building a stadium in Inglewood, while Dean Spanos has until next January to work out a deal to have the San Diego Chargers join them, with Mark Davis getting second dibs on having the Oakland Raiders share digs with the Rams if the Chargers turn it down.
In other words, pretty much exactly what I predicted on Monday. Yay me! (Though with the writing on the wall at that point, it wasn’t that tough of a guess.)
I’ve written up a long analysis of the winners and losers of this decision for Vice Sports, so please go there now if you want the full blow by blow. For here, I’ll just note a few highlights from The Decision: NFL Edition:
- Man, Stan Kroenke sure wanted to move to L.A., didn’t he? He’s now on the hook for $2.66 billion in stadium construction costs (according to his claims, anyway, but even if it’s only $1.8 billion that’s still a lot), plus $550 million in relocation fees, which even for a guy with a $7.5 billion net worth is a significant chunk of change. He’ll be able to avail himself of the L.A. market for personal seat licenses and naming rights, and $200 million in NFL G-4 money, and about $180 million in sales tax kickbacks, and … and I still don’t see how he’s ever going to make back his investment, given that only one team in football is worth $2 billion more than the Rams were in St. Louis, and that’s the Dallas Cowboys, who are a case unto themselves. Branding his development as some kind of NFL theme park had better be history’s most successful business move ever, that’s all I can say.
- All y’all who said the NFL would never approve a stadium plan that was mostly private money, they just did. In fact, this is the third stadium in recent years with relatively little in the way of public subsidies, following the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants and Jets. I wouldn’t presume to think this is going to be a trend — plenty of teams in smaller and less subsidy-averse markets are still getting money thrown at them — but it does show that in particular circumstances, owner-funded stadiums can and will happen.
- There are a lot of shoes still to drop. First and foremost, Spanos and Kroenke need to start talking about a lease deal for a shared Inglewood stadium, something that hasn’t even begun to happen, given that 24 hours ago Spanos still insisted he’d never consider such a thing. At that point, a new two-front game of chicken will begin, with Spanos simultaneously playing the “I can just go back to San Diego” card with Kroenke and the “I’m outta here if you don’t cough up a stadium” card with San Diego. Meanwhile, Davis is almost certain to start playing footsie with St. Louis for its now-rejected $477 million stadium subsidy offer — in his post-meeting statements last night, he made a point of talking about “Raider Nation” without breathing the word “Oakland” — though he’s unlikely to pull the trigger on anything until he sees whether the Los Angeles option is entirely closed to him.
That’s it for now — like I said, head over to Vice if you want more. Though one more item that I didn’t get to include in the Vice piece is this jaw-dropper from Kroenke post-decision:
Stan Kroenke just said the Rams moving will "help a lot of people with lower incomes." Yes, I'm sure that was his motivation for doing this.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 13, 2016
[UPDATE: One more twist that hadn’t occurred to me when I filed my Vice story: What happens to PSL holders in St. Louis? Looks like they could try to sue for the right to buy Rams tickets in Los Angeles, which even if it would almost certainly fail, would be frickin’ hilarious.]