Chargers and Raiders buy Carson land, NFL presses San Diego to hurry up with its stadium offer

NFL VP for stadium extortion Eric Grubman hasn’t read the whole Citizens Stadium Advisory Group proposal for a San Diego Chargers stadium yet — it’s 42 pages! and there’s good stuff on TV on Tuesdays! — but he knows what he doesn’t like about it:

“I don’t think they made a specific proposal that includes all the key elements of how they get entitled and so forth and so on. So first of all, I haven’t dug into it. And second of all, I don’t know what the timing of that proposal could be.”

What Grubman seems to be saying is “Nice $647 million in land and cash you’re offering, but hurry up and tell us that you can get it all done by next January, or else we could let the team move to Carson, you know.” Not that the NFL would necessarily do that, but threatening to do that they would totally do.

And speaking of Carson, the Chargers and Oakland Raiders owners and the city’s joint powers authority closed on buying the land for a proposed stadium there yesterday, for an undisclosed sum, setting off a round of “Omigod they’re really building a stadium in Carson!” Which this doesn’t necessarily indicate — the city of Carson gets most of the land, and would keep it for some other development if the stadium doesn’t happen — but it does indicate the teams are serious enough to spend a few million dollars in hopes of advancing the three-city stadium game of chicken a bit further.

Carson mayor says city to shoulder site cleanup costs, admits whole Raiders/Chargers move could be bluff

Hey, check it out, it’s some actual news about the proposed San Diego Chargers/Oakland Raiders stadium in Carson! Carson Mayor Albert Robles sat down with a local TV sports anchor on a local AM radio station, which was written up on the web, and … where was I? Oh, right, how that Carson stadium land deal is actually going to work. First off, the site is perfect for a stadium, says Robles, because it’s totally contaminated!

“Most of that site was a former landfill. It’s contaminated land,” said Robles. “There is a strip, about 11 acres, that was never a landfill.”

And that’s good because nobody was going to use it for anything else, I guess?

“We were on schedule to build a massive retail mixed-use commercial project on that site. That was already planned, whether the NFL was coming or not. That still is our backup plan.”

Okay, no, not that, then.

Anyway, the teams have bought, or are buying, or will buy as soon as it’s clear that they’re not going to get new stadiums in San Diego and Oakland, the land for about $20 million. Then, because buyers of contaminated land are responsible for cleanup costs under California law, they’ll transfer the land to a new Joint Powers Authority, which will pass it along to the Carson Remediation Authority. So the teams would get the land, but the city would get the responsibility for any cleanup — the CRA has reportedly already set aside funds for this, and would be doing it for the commercial project anyway, but it would still be nice to know exactly how much is being spent by the public to clean up private land being bought from private owners for a private project. [UPDATE: The L.A. Times has it: $120 million, of which $50 million in final bonds are expected to be approved by the Carson city council today.]

Robles also gives some hints about the possibility that the whole Carson thing is just a bluff to extract stadium subsidies from Oakland and San Diego, noting that one condition of the stadium deal was that “there would be no stadium built unless the city of Oakland and the city of San Diego were unable to build them a new stadium.” And asked if the whole thing is just a bluff, he answered:

“There is a shred of possibility to what you’re saying is true, we’ll leave it at that,” he said.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

NFL actually issues official response to why its website has a “Los Angeles Rams” page

So that was interesting: When I reported yesterday on the Los Angeles Rams page that was hidden on the NFL’s website and wrote, “Conspiracy-theorize away, people of the Internet,” I thought maybe we’d get a crazy Reddit thread out of it. Instead, the news (or “news”) got picked up by Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report and tons of other places, with someone even reporting that it showed up on a St. Louis TV station.

And now, it’s gotten an official response from the NFL, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Alex Riethmiller, NFL vice president for communications, said, “It’s a bug in the system that, when you manipulate the URL, will pull up a legacy team from that city if no current one exists.”

So everyone can officially calm down, okay? There’s also a Boston Patriots page, and the Patriots aren’t moving back to Boston. It’s just the way the search function on the NFL teams page is coded, and no particular team is singled out for — sorry, what’s that, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio?

But the glitch has its limits. Inserting “POT” unfortunately does not return a page for the Pottsville Maroons.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The NFL’s official website has a “Los Angeles Rams” page

FoS reader Brian Sweeney writes in with a hot tip: Search for “LA” on the NFL’s official team site, and you get this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.57.43 AMNow, this is almost certainly some artifact of a legacy link to the Rams’ former incarnation, which somebody decided should point to the St. Louis Rams page. (Especially given all those broken image links in there.) Still, it doesn’t come up with the Oakland Raiders page, now does it? Coincidence?

Conspiracy-theorize away, people of the Internet.

Goodell on L.A. stadium plans: Two enter, only one shall leave

For some reason this took a day to filter over to my news feed, but on CBS Morning News on Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said for the first time that only one of the two L.A. stadium plans can succeed:

“We have two proposed, but we have to pick one or the other. It’s not likely we’ll pick both stadiums.”

This isn’t really any surprise — it’s hard enough to picture that there’s enough money from naming rights, personal seat licenses, etc., to get one nearly-$2-billion stadium built, so two would be downright inconceivable. Not to mention that one of the stadiums, the one in Carson, is supposed to be home to two teams (the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders), and there’s no way the NFL is going to let three teams move to L.A. all at once.

This whole L.A. battle, really, is turning into a multi-sided mess, where the various team owners are trying to pit Inglewood and Carson against officials in St. Louis and San Diego and Oakland in competition for who can offer the most lucrative incentives; and where they’re simultaneously all fighting for their fellow owners’ blessing as the team(s) that should get to take over the L.A. market and leave their old ones behind. If any team ends up getting to do that. Or wanting to.

Basically, remember that sports leagues aren’t secret cabals filled with supervillains working in lockstep; they’re more like the Evil League of Evil, simultaneously teaming up and competing with each other. I have no idea who’s going to win this battle right now, but suffice to say that none of the rich guys involved are going to be any less rich at the end of it.

Carson stadium may not have funding, but does have 20-story lightning bolts and Al Davis flame

New Carson stadium porn! And man, is it porny — check this out:

A signature element of the design is a 115- to 120-foot tower that rises through and extends above the main concourse. It would serve as a pedestal for a cauldron that would change depending on the team. When the Chargers play, simulated lightning bolts would swirl behind glass encasing the tower and, if the team were to score a touchdown, a bolt would shoot out of the top. For Raiders games, a flame would burn in the cauldron in honor of legendary team owner Al Davis.

Having trouble picturing this? Well, wonder no more:

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553a597ff92ea14738002859/CHARGERS%20-%2002.jpg

The architect who designed this craziness also said he “wanted the building to be iconic and sleek, like a luxury sports car,” then showed it by releasing a rendering of the new stadium with a Porsche sitting in front of it. Presumably because when people picture sparks shooting out of their car, they don’t usually think of it as a good thing?

Anyway, NFL commissioner called the Carson project (and the St. Louis Rams‘ proposed Inglewood project) “viable” with a “great deal of potential to be successful” on Friday, and then his paid employee Dan Hanzus of NFL.com said this gave the L.A. plans “momentum,” so job well done, crazy lightning renderers! Another day that the media doesn’t spend discussing how exactly anyone is going to pay for these buildings is a happy day for Goodell.

Oakland stadium honcho gets mad at NFL for Raiders move threats, must be new at this game

On Tuesday, NFL VP for stadium extortion Eric Grubman called in to an L.A. radio show and talked smack about Oakland’s stadium plans for the Raiders, because that’s what he does. In particular, Grubman said that over the past three years, “I visited with public officials, and I feel like we’ve gone backwards. So I feel like we’ve lost years and gone backwards. And that usually doesn’t bode well.”

Floyd Kephart, the financier trying to put together an Oakland stadium deal, however, apparently failed to read Grubman’s resume, and so yesterday freaked the hell out at the NFL capo:

“Every time he comes, there is a backward step,” Kephart said of NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, who was in Oakland last week. “And if he would just stay the hell out of here, we might actually get a deal done.”…

Kephart peppered his remarks before the Airport Area Business Association with one-liners Wednesday but said afterward that he took umbrage with Grubman’s tone at last week’s meeting. “You don’t come to a city and threaten it with ‘I’m going to take your team away. We’ll move to Carson if you guys don’t do something,'” he said.

Floyd, Floyd, Floyd. When you’re the NFL, that’s exactly what you do. It’s not something you need to take umbrage over, it’s something to shake your head sadly at, and try to defuse by talking about all the great progress you’re making, blah blah blah. Sure, I guess that can be tough when you’re not really making much progress, but then just point out how the folks in Carson don’t know how they’re going to pay for their stadium, either. But resorting to petty name-calling is … way more entertaining, actually, so by all means, keep it up!

Carson council approves NFL stadium rezoning without public vote, because it can

Yeah, the Carson city council went and done did it:

A local City Council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to clear the path for a proposed $1.7 billion stadium near Los Angeles that could become the shared home to the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders…

Council members could have opted to put the issue before Carson voters, but instead chose to approve it outright themselves as state law allows.

As covered here yesterday, most of the project details still fall into the “reply hazy, ask again later” category; what the Carson council approved yesterday was the ballot language approved earlier in a petition drive, which voters now won’tget to  vote on because the council did it on their behalf. From the looks of it — it’s 309 pages, which makes you wonder how many petitioners actually read the whole thing, let alone city council members — it mostly approves a bunch of rezoning of land targeted for the stadium, plus some “stadiums are cool” language to make clear the intent of the initiative. Everything else will get worked out later, though it’s been promised that the city will only be on the hook for police and traffic costs, which the teams (the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, under the current plan) would reimburse them for.

There is one cost that isn’t being mentioned, and that’s foregone property taxes: Under the plan, the entire 157-acre site that would be home to the stadium — and parking, and presumably some other development, since a stadium don’t need no 157 acres — would be transferred to a public authority, which pretty much always means exempting it from property taxes. As we’ve seen before, property tax exemptions can add up to a whole lot of money, so it’s worth asking questions about how much this would amount to for Carson — in fact, that would have been a good question to ask before voting to move ahead with this deal, but meh, there’s always time to figure stuff out later, right?

NFL says no vote on L.A. moves for Rams, Chargers, Raiders until end of year, “at the soonest”

I’ve been saying for a while now that the Los Angeles NFL relocation melodrama is likely to drag on most of the year, and now it’s official:

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league’s point man on L.A., dismissed conjecture that a vote of owners is imminent, saying “that’s based on the fact there’s been an awful lot of progress made on the two sites in Los Angeles, and it’s beginning to be tangible.”

“But the fact is we’re not planning for a vote in May or any time soon,” Grubman said. “We have a process. It’s deliberate. There are steps that need to be taken, and I think that’s much more likely to be later in this calendar year at the soonest.”

That all makes sense, as right now the game that the owner of the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders are all playing is to play their home cities off against L.A. to see where they can get the most lucrative deal, and setting an early deadline would only cut off the bidding war prematurely. Still, that “at the soonest” is an indication that the NFL may be ready to let the L.A. war go on into early 2016 — or beyond? — so be ready for a long, long stadium shakedown season before we find out what’s a bluff or whose is going to be called.

 

L.A. business types say Carson stadium could generate $500m a year, keep straight face while doing so

Yesterday it was stadium consultant John Moag saying that a new Chargers stadium in San Diego would generate $600 million a year in new economic activity — a figure that, as one FoS commenter noted, would require every fan in attendance to spend $1,200 per game. Today, it’s the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, a local business-dominated non-profit, asserting that a new stadium in Carson for the Chargers and Oakland Raiders would generate $500 million a year in new spending:

“An NFL franchise has very, very little net economic impact on L.A.’s economy,” said Victor Matheson, an economist who studies sports at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

Oh, sorry, I skipped right to the economist pointing out that no stadium in history has ever shown that kind of economic impact after the fact. My bad!

I’ve explained in detail before why these kinds of “economic impact” numbers are garbage, so I won’t go over that again. Suffice to say that LAEDC projects the actual amount of new tax revenue for Carson to be far lower — about $8 million a year — and since that’s all in property and sales taxes, there’s no way to tell how that would compare with using the site for another project that would be active more than ten days or so a year, let alone with what additional traffic, police, fire, etc., costs a new stadium would accrue. It’s entirely possible that the total would be above zero — assuming Carson isn’t asked to kick in anything, which still isn’t a sure thing — but nine-figure headlines are still just clickbait.