Chargers staying in San Diego another year, Raiders still rumored to be moving everywhere and its sister

Today in people who used to be famous talking about where the Oakland Raiders might move, it’s former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, who says that the team could be taking his city seriously as — hey, wait a minute! This is a repeat!

In newsier NFL maybe-relocation news, the San Diego Chargers owners have announced that they’re not opting out of their lease for 2015, which means they’re not moving to Los Angeles to play in a stadium that hasn’t even been planned yet, either. The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer takes this as a sign that no NFL teams are moving to L.A. next year, on the theory that if somebody were, then the Chargers would want in too to avoid being left stuck in San Diego with an old stadium and two other teams on their doorstep. I’d stick with the theory that nobody’s moving to L.A. because there’s nowhere to play there that’s any better than teams’ old stadium back home, though.

Raiders, Rams continuing to move everywhere or nowhere, according to wild-ass guesses

Today in wild speculation about which NFL teams might move where:

A different former Oakland Raiders player says that the team could maybe possibly move, though this one has San Antonio as their maybe possibly destination!

“I think they should stay in Oakland if at all possible and I know that’s what the team is trying to do,” [Tim] Brown said on Friday’s PFT Live. “They’re trying to work out a deal to stay there, but it’s tough because the city of Oakland doesn’t have the funds to get it done and it seems like to everybody that really L.A. is trying to woo any team. . . .

“I’ll tell you, the wild card here, I believe, is San Antonio. I know people don’t want to hear that, but from what I’m hearing the package that San Antonio put on the table was far better than any package they could have ever imagined. So financially the best thing for the team may be to go to San Antonio.”

NFL vice president for stadium grubbing Eric Grubman told owners that multiple teams are interested in moving to Los Angeles, possibly next year, possibly not! According to “sources”!

Eric Grubman, the NFL executive overseeing the LA initiative for the league, spoke during the meeting and acknowledged that there were multiple teams with the intent of moving to Los Angeles as soon as next season, and explained that there remained multiple options for when and where those teams might relocate within the LA region, sources said.

And our old pal Ken Belson of the New York Times says that nobody’s moving to L.A. next year, because there won’t be a stadium deal by then!

Discussions with league officials and owners on the sidelines of the meeting confirmed that the prospect of an N.F.L. team’s playing in 2015 in Los Angeles — which has not had a team for two decades — was increasingly unlikely. … In a game of cat and mouse, no one appears willing to build a stadium until a team has committed to moving.

Add it all up, and you get that nobody really knows anything, though it’s clear that the NFL really wants to heat up the threat of teams moving to L.A. (duh) and getting a stadium built in L.A. will be tough (double duh). Belson also reports that the threat seems to be working to shake down at least one other city for stadium plans, with St. Louis Sports Commission chair Dave Peacock having shared preliminary ideas for a new Rams stadium at one of several sites with Grubman, though “preliminary” apparently doesn’t here mean “with any idea of how to pay for it.”

Stay tuned here for more non-news as it doesn’t happen!

Hamilton County officially approves $7.5m for new Bengals scoreboard under “state-of-the-art” clause

The Hamilton County Commission voted Wednesday to approve paying for three-quarters of the cost of a new $10 million scoreboard for the Cincinnati Bengals — something it actually agreed to back in April, and which it kind of had to given the horrible, horrible lease the county agreed to with the Bengals that requires the public to buy the team anything that the kids down the block have. But anyway, now it’s official and all.

I’d love to show you a rendering of what the new scoreboard will look like, but this is all that any news sites have run with their stories. Is that the old scoreboard, or a Photoshopped rendition of what the new scoreboard will look like? I’m going to have to find somebody who’s actually been to a Bengals game to tell me, aren’t I? At least maybe this year some fans won’t be too embarrassed to admit it.

Raiders-to-LA “legitimate” possibility, says NFL reporter, citing no one at all

Who’s spreading rumors about the Oakland Raiders moving to Los Angeles today? Why, it’s NFL.com reporter (and Pez collector) Ian Rapoport, and he says it on Twitter so it must be true:

Okay, then! Somebody somewhere said something that made an NFL reporter “realize” that the Raiders might move to L.A.! Either we’re getting a rare glimpse behind the scenes of negotiations, or somebody is using sports reporters to float rumors that may or may not be true. Definitely one of those two!

Sure would be nice for someone to actually do some reporting on whether anyone can actually afford to build a new stadium in L.A., which would seem to be a prerequisite of anyone moving there. And speaking of stadium funding and Twitter, this doesn’t seem to be a good sign at all for L.A. stadium advocates:

Though of course if an L.A. team can sell the PSLs before fans realize they’re not worth what they’re paying for them, then it’s the fans’ problem, not the team’s. Sure do hope no NFL fans in L.A. can read Twitter.

Somebody with “NFL contacts” exploring Carson as L.A. stadium site, says guy who owns land in Carson

Another day, another newspaper story with vague rumors of reports of rumors of NFL teams moving to Los Angeles. This week: A guy who owns property in Carson says he talked to somebody who knows a guy who might want to build a stadium there, maybe!

Executives with two of the teams widely considered to be looking to move have approached a local developer who is in escrow to become a major partner in the company that operates the golf course. These executives made queries about the site.

“Yes, I have been approached by two separate groups with NFL contacts,” said Jeffrey Klein, a Newport Beach developer. “And yes, there’s no question it’s an attractive place for a stadium.”

Klein wouldn’t name the teams that had “contacts” with these groups, so right now all we know is that somebody who wants to work with the NFL on a stadium has at least checked in on Carson. Or a guy who owns property in Carson is trying to drum up interest in developing his land, and has decided to spread wild NFL rumors to get some attention. But naw, real estate developers would never do that.

Report: AEG interviewing PR firms for L.A. NFL team, Raiders may be out because their fans don’t own poodles

Okay! After a week of former NFL players and former movie executives and more former NFL players speculating wildly on whether the Oakland Raiders will or should move to Los Angeles, we finally have some actual sorta-kinda-almost news about a possible L.A. relocation. Jeanne Zelasko of KFWB-AM in Los Angeles says that AEG, which has been trying for years to pretend that it’s building an NFL stadium in L.A., is now looking to hire PR specialists to handle a team moving there next year, according to people who’ve interviewed for the job:

Over the last week to ten days, AEG has been interviewing people for a public relations gig to handle an NFL team coming to L.A. And these conversations they’re having with people, these interviews they’re having with people, they’re talking about a startup situation February 15th of 2015.

Okay, so this still isn’t much of news: Basically, a company that’s already stated its interest in bringing a team to L.A. may or may not be looking to hire someone to oversee media around getting a team next spring, if one materializes during the annual NFL relocation-announcement window. But it’s another small data point toward the argument that some teams, likely the Raiders and St. Louis Rams, may be considering at least ramping up a threat to move in February, whether or not they go through with it.Zelasko later added (wait past her long discussion of naps) that what’s going on behind the scenes is that the NFL is now at least actively looking to hear more from AEG on how their stadium plan would work, which is more than they’ve done in the past. She also said that one “stumbling block” could be that the L.A. Coliseum and Rose Bowl have balked at hosting the Raiders temporarily, because the image of a typical Raiders fan is “a thug – not a clean-cut mom and dad, two kids, and a poodle,” and so the league might want to force Mark Davis to sell the team before okaying a move to L.A. Leaving aside the racial subtext here: a poodle? There are NFL teams whose fans are poodles? Also, is there something about Mark Davis that means he doesn’t know how to market football to poodles? Is “poodles” going to be the new code word for white folk who aren’t threatening, at least to other white folk? Can it be, please?

Tampa homeless charity CEO on unpaid sports concessions labor: Who you gonna believe, “former addicts” or him?

The Tampa Bay unpaid homeless labor scandal fallout continues to fall out this week, with Hillsborough County officials calling for a federal investigation, the Rays and concessionaire Centerplate launching their own probe, and the Lightning saying hey, don’t blame them, they stopped using these guys in 2013 due to “reliability and consistency concerns.” (Though not “violating labor law” concerns, I guess.)

The charity at the center of the charges, meanwhile, New Beginnings, has responded with its own press release, and it is hi-larious. For starters:

“We don’t use homeless or the clients than are in our Emergency Shelter for sporting events”.

Assuming that “than” is a typo for “that,” this at first sounds like the dozens of homeless New Beginnings clients who the Tampa Bay Times witnessed lining up to work concessions at a Buccaneers game must have been imaginary. The key here, though, is that phrase “in our Emergency Shelter” — New Beginnings does use its clients to run sports concessions, it just does so with those in its “work therapy” program, where homeless people learn how to re-enter the work world by working and not getting paid for it! (Which, come to think of it, probably is a good acclimation to the work world these days.)

New Beginnings also posted a link to a softball radio interview with New Beginnings CEO Tom Atchison on a Christian radio station, in which he denied all the charges, mostly by saying, “Are you kidding me? Stop this nonsense!” Then he said this:

“Can you imagine using somebody that’s homeless off the street to cash out a register and serve hot dogs? They’d be eating the hot dogs, stealing the beer, taking the money out of the register, and running down the street!”

Your homelessness charity director, people!

Atchison went on to blame disgruntled ex-employees and “a few former addicts that are telling him how horrible we are” for the negative press coverage, without actually contesting the central point of the Times article, which is that New Beginnings is pimping out its homeless clients to Tampa Bay sports teams, not paying them anything beyond their food and shelter, and pocketing any proceeds. Instead, he appears to be falling back on the defense that he’s a good Christian, so why are you picking on him, already?

On first blush it will appear that New Beginnings is a horrible agency, but after the dust has settled the truth about the great work we do will prevail. We at New Beginnings feel like we are under attack by the powers of darkness, but God is at our side to walk us through this.

God better have one heck of a labor lawyer.

Falcons’ iris-roofed stadium now to be second-priciest NFL stadium ever

The Atlanta Falcons stadium’s projected cost has risen again, this time to $1.4 billion, which would make it the second most expensive NFL stadium in history, after the $1.6 billion stadium shared by the New York Giants and Jets. No real word on why the inflated price tag, though the Atlanta Business Chronicle cited Falcons CFO Greg Beadles as indicating that “more detailed design plans allowed the team to more accurately budget the cost of the stadium” (i.e., “we guessed wrong”) and saying that “construction costs across the board continue to increase as the economy improves and demand grows” (i.e., “we have to compete for steel with stuff like the new Braves stadium now”).

The Falcons will cover the increased costs, though you have to wonder if they’ll take some of it out of that “waterfall fund” that the state set up for them out of any hotel tax revenues that aren’t needed to pay the initial stadium debt. Though the team’s owners were going to avail themselves of that money one way or another, no doubt, so it shouldn’t matter much to state taxpayers what in particular the team uses it on. Anyway, crazy roof, people! Who can put a price on that?

Boomer Esiason says something about something! Click me, click me, click me!

This what do people with no power over whether NFL teams move to L.A. think about NFL teams moving to L.A. beat just keeps on going! Today’s entry: Sports radio host Boomer Esiason, who totally thinks both the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams are going to move there! Because “there have been reports all over the place”!

You know, there’s actual reporting that news sites could be doing on this — looking into whether anyone is making any progress on getting a new stadium built, into what if anything Los Angeles elected officials would offer toward getting one done, or even just trying to shake loose whether any NFL execs have been meeting to discuss an L.A. move or two. But, you know, that’s real hard compared to reprinting what various famous people are saying. Better to stick with that — besides, famous people make great clickbait!

Concessionaire using unpaid homeless workers at Tampa sports venues, possibly illegally

And finally, this one really needed to run sometime other than Thanksgiving weekend:

Before every Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, dozens of men gather in the yard at New Beginnings of Tampa, one of the city’s largest homeless programs.

The men — many of them recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — are about to work a concessions stand behind Raymond James Stadium’s iconic pirate ship, serving beer and food to football fans. First, a supervisor for New Beginnings tries to pump them up.

“Thank God we have these events,” he tells them. “They bring in the prime finances.”

But not for the workers. They leave the game sweat-soaked and as penniless as they arrived. The money for their labor goes to New Beginnings. The men receive only shelter and food.

That’s right: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (as well as the Rays and Lightning) have been using indentured servants to run their concessions. (Okay, not quite indentured servants, since these workers can — and do — quit their unpaid jobs and give up their shelter, but still pretty close.) That’s probably a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act — New Beginnings CEO Tom Atchison says the program is modeled on one used by the Salvation Army, but the Salvation Army doesn’t pimp its unpaid workers out to for-profit sports teams to make money — and undeniably skeevy. And it only gets skeevier:

[Victoria] Denton, the other New Beginnings employee who went to the FDLE, said she witnessed Atchison open homeless residents’ mail, take Social Security checks and deposit them in New Beginnings accounts, and use food stamp cards to buy food for himself…

“He would say, ‘They’re drug addicts, they’re alcoholics, they’re just going to spend it on cigarettes and booze,’ ” said Lee Hoffman, the formerly homeless minister who worked for Atchison off and on from 2007 to 2010. “The only way they get any of it is if they complain hard enough.”

Sports stadiums: your job-creation engines, everybody!