San Diego submits same Chargers stadium plan as six months ago, NFL says thanks for time, we’ll call you

The city of San Diego submitted its Chargers stadium proposal to the NFL yesterday, and — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it’s just a rehash of where things have stood for a while now, not an actual new bid. The actual 41-page letter can be found here, but it’s the same plan that Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed back in August:

  • $200 million in cash from the city, to be raised via lease revenue bonds (which San Diego officials say won’t require a public vote), then paid off by the city out of general revenues
  • $150 million in cash from the county (which would require a public vote, which couldn’t take place until June)
  • $362.5 million from the Chargers (who could use naming-rights fees to cover part of this)
  • $187.5 million from PSL sales
  • $200 million from the NFL’s G-4 program

Chargers owner Dean Spanos has repeatedly rejected this plan on the grounds that he doesn’t want to have to wait and see how people vote, but it’s the only plan he’s getting, so. Also, right now all three team owners (Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders) have shown little interest in their current cities’ stadium plans, so there’s not much to separate them in terms of who should get to move to L.A. because of their unhappy home life.

As for the NFL as an entity, it issued a carefully phrased statement thanking everyone for playing, and offering them a complimentary edition of the home game:

“All three submissions are generally consistent with our most recent discussions with public officials and task forces,” the statementx read. “We appreciate the leadership that public officials have demonstrated on behalf of the three cities. There is a great deal of information for the three teams and all of NFL ownership to review and consider. At this point, no applications for relocation of a franchise have been filed.”

The first NFL owners meeting to discuss this mess and try to come to some sort of consensus — remember, it takes a three-quarters supermajority for the NFL to decide on relocations — is a week from Tuesday. Sadly it will not be televised, because it would blow The Decision out of the water.

St. Louis submits $477m Rams stadium subsidy plan, NFL still isn’t happy

St. Louis submitted its formal Rams stadium proposal to the NFL yesterday, the state-appointed stadium task force sending over a 400-page document outlining what’s currently on the table. That includes:

  • $400 million in city and state cash and tax credits (plus another $77 million in future operating and maintenance costs)
  • $250 million from Rams owner Stan Kroenke (who could pay much of that off with naming rights fees)
  • $300 million from the NFL’s G-4 stadium funding program (which the league insists is capped at $200 million)
  • the remaining $50 million or so from PSL sales (which could also help pay off Kroenke’s share)

It’s not a proposal that the league is particularly happy with thanks to that extra G-4 money, but it’s still an impressive haul, especially compared to the alternatives:

It’s increasingly clear that the NFL’s Los Angeles move threat shakedown plan really isn’t going as the league hoped: Once Kroenke announced plans to move the Rams to Inglewood and the Chargers and Raiders owners immediately countered with their own hastily assembled counterplan to move to Carson, the NFL responded by giving everyone until the end of 2015 to throw money at keeping their teams, hoping that this would help determine a winner. Instead, the league has three different stadium plans that it’s not really happy with, and nothing close to the kind of consensus among owners needed to pick a winner. There’s still a chance of some kind of horse-trading taking place to allow a January vote — I dunno, Kroenke gets to move the Rams to L.A. but has to take the Chargers as a tenant and the Raiders get the St. Louis offer, while relocation fee money is shuffled around to make everyone happy — but I wouldn’t bet on it, which means this whole mess could easily drag on for another season.

This is good news, mind you, for people who don’t want to see the NFL use the L.A. situation to shake down taxpayers for huge amounts of money, though St. Louis still seems likely to end up paying a huge tab for either the Rams or a replacement team eventually. (Blame St. Louis’s idiot negotiators in the ’90s, though their current idiot negotiators certainly deserve a share of the blame.) It’s probably going to mean more painful months ahead for Rams, Chargers, and Raiders fans, though, so if you’re one of those, you might want to pick another team to chain your heart to for a while. I hear Leicester City is fun.

Oakland mayor thumbs nose at Raiders stadium deadline, NFL bidding war not really going as planned

It’s NFL self-imposed deadline week for San Diego, St. Louis, and Oakland to come up with concrete stadium plans to keep their teams from moving to Los Angeles, and one shoe has already dropped:

Oakland faces a Wednesday deadline to give the NFL a financing plan for a new Raiders football stadium, but city officials, who have repeatedly said they won’t stick taxpayers with the bill, indicated Monday that no plan is forthcoming.

Instead, Oakland will send a letter to league officials simply updating them on the city’s efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay in town, said Claudia Cappio, Oakland’s assistant city administrator.

This is what’s known as calling the NFL’s bluff: With all indications that the NFL won’t be able to get 24 of 32 owners to agree on an L.A. relocation plan in votes next month, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf doesn’t have much to lose by telling the league “Sorry, no Raiders stadium plan for you.” Especially since at this point, there’s no way Schaaf could present a more lucrative offer than what’s on the table in St. Louis — so her best hope for retaining the Raiders is either that the NFL gives Rams owner Stan Kroenke permission to move to L.A. and Raiders owner Mark Davis is left out in the cold, or that nobody decides anything, either of which means Davis is stuck having to continue negotiations with Oakland or else try to find another city to relocate to.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt Schaaf that if the Raiders do leave, it would solve another problem for her, namely by clearing room for A’s owner Lew Wolff to build a new stadium on the Oakland Coliseum property — which he claims he can do without public funds — instead of having to resort to the problematic alternative sites. We’ll see how this all plays out, but so far Schaaf seems to be negotiating from a position of strength, on the grounds that the city’s sports teams need Oakland more than it needs them — which is refreshing, at least, even if we don’t know just how far she’ll take it.

St. Louis approves Rams stadium bill that includes $100m from NFL that league says it won’t pay

The St. Louis Rams stadium battle — and by extension, that of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, the two teams whose owners are competing with the Rams’ Stan Kroenke to move to Los Angeles — is reaching peak craziness. All this happened since Friday:

  • The St. Louis board of aldermen approved the city’s share of a $477 million subsidy package for a new $1 billion Rams stadium, including a scheme by which the city would kick back stadium taxes to the team, in exchange for the NFL upping its contribution from $200 million to $300 million.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent Missouri stadium point person Dave Peacock a strongly-worded letter saying that the NFL putting in an extra $100 million was “fundamentally inconsistent with the NFL’s program of stadium financing” and complaining that he’d failed to pass this along to the board.
  • NBC Sports’ Mike Florio reported that “a source with knowledge of the situation” told him the idea for the extra $100 million was proposed by two members of the NFL’s own Los Angeles relocation committee. (Under this plan, the added money would come off the top of L.A. relocation fees.) Florio didn’t know which of the six committee members were responsible — both Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Texans owner Bob McNair are on record as supporting the Chargers’ and Raiders’ competing L.A. plan, but it could have been any of them — but given that Goodell’s letter specifically stated that “each of these owners” on the committee supported making clear that the extra money isn’t on the table, it sounds like there’s some epic in-fighting going on in the NFL board room.
  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported, citing “numerous well-connected ownership sources,” that if Kroenke is denied the chance to move to Los Angeles, he could consider either moving to London or buying the Denver Broncos and selling the Rams to someone who’d keep them in St. Louis. Either of which could happen, sure, but these could also be NFL sources trying to keep up the pressure on St. Louis to commit more stadium money even as momentum seems to have swung slightly toward Kroenke not being the L.A. lottery winner.

I’m still putting my money on nothing at all getting decided in January, if only because of the increasing indications that there are various NFL owner factions trying to work their own angles to influence the ultimate decision. Remember, any final ruling requires 24 out of 32 owners to agree on it, and Goodell is going to have to do a much better job of herding cats to get three-quarters of owners to even agree on what to order for lunch, let alone an L.A. decision. Rams fans may have to wait a bit longer to find out if Thursday’s game was their last one in St. Louis ever.

Texans owner says Rams shouldn’t move if St. Louis will pay them to stay

With less than two weeks to go before the NFL’s deadline for cities to put up stadium plans to keep their teams from moving to L.A. or else … something, something bad … the league’s internal squabbles over the whole process are increasingly being aired in public:

So the writing is on the wall: Once St. Louis approves its $477 million in stadium subsidies later today, the Rams will be told to stay put, and the Chargers and Raiders will move to Carson, right? Except that McNair and Richardson are only two owners out of 32, and any relocation decision needs 24 votes for approval. While none of us have Steve Tisch’s psychic powers, I’d say that “no decision in January” is looking like a more and more likely outcome.

St. Louis committee okays city share of $477m Rams subsidy, NFL says “still not enough, maybe”

The St. Louis board of aldermen’s ways and means committee voted 7-2 yesterday to approve a Rams stadium subsidy bill, sending the legislation to the full board. And while a final vote is still a week away, the writing seems to be on the wall, especially since board president and key swing vote Lewis Reed has gotten on board with the plan, seemingly in exchange for a minority-hiring package for stadium construction workers:

“We know that when we empower kids and give them the opportunity for careers it can dramatically change lives,” Aldermanic President Lewis Reed said.

Of course, St. Louis could give a lot more kids opportunity for careers by spending $400 million on pretty much anything other than building a football stadium, but hey, let’s not split hairs here.

The final plan is for a $1.01 billion stadium, with funding broken down like so:

  • $250 million in state money, including both hotel tax money and state tax credits.
  • $150 million in city money, part from the city’s share of hotel taxes, part from existing taxes on Rams parking, tickets, food, drinks, and souvenirs.
  • $77 million in future operating and maintenance costs, to be paid for by the city.
  • $200 million from the NFL’s G4 stadium loan program.
  • The rest from Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who would get to use personal seat license payments and naming-rights fees to pay off most of it.

Reaction to the vote was swift and all over the place, depending on the person’s position on subsidizing almost half of a bilion-dollar stadium for a billionaire whose team just got its last new stadium at public expense 20 years ago:

  • Rams stadium task force chief Dave Peacock said that “there’s obviously a lot more to do,” but that “this is a proud day as an American to see this process play out.”
  • Alderwoman Megan Green tweeted that “the deal cutting, bribery, and [corruption] at City Hall will never cease to amaze me,” and added: “I’ve had loved ones offered bribes for my support. I’m not alone. Campaign finance reports will be interesting…” She also said she’s been in touch with the FBI about her allegations.

Assuming the city bill is approved, both Kroenke and his fellow owners will have separate decisions to make on whether to take what’s on the table in St. Louis or move the Rams to a new $1.8 billion stadium (with little in the way of public subsidies) in Los Angeles. The day before the vote, NFL VP Eric Grubman went on the radio to fume about how it’s not fair to argue against subsidizing the Rams just because of how rich Kroenke is (actually reasonable: the better argument to make against the subsidy is that its only purpose is to make Kroenke richer), and also to say that this offer still might not be sweet enough:

“St. Louis will fall short of having a compelling proposal that would attract the Rams,” Grubman said. “To that end, and I don’t mean to oversimplify and I’m certainly not going to negotiate the individual points: The stadium is going to cost more than is at the drawing board at the moment, the funding has declined and new taxes are being proposed to the Rams.”

Is that supposed to mean that Kroenke won’t take the bait and sign the deal, or that other NFL owners won’t block him from moving to L.A. if this is the St. Louis offer (Grubman also said the San Diego and Oakland stadium proposals are even less compelling), or just that this is how you haggle? Grubman didn’t say, and it’s entirely possible he doesn’t know.

He also noted that an offer good enough to keep the Rams isn’t the same as an offer good enough to keep the NFL, hinting that the league might let Kroenke walk and then try to take up the St. Louis offer for a new team (Oakland Raiders? An expansion team?) later on. But, you know, all of this has a lot of spin to it right now — that’s literally Grubman’s job — so reading too much into any statement is probably a mistake. More game of chicken to come!

St. Louis committee to vote today on Rams stadium bill, and other NFL-to-LA news

Today’s NFL-to-L.A. scuttlebutt roundup:


Somebody is convincing Bay Area reporters that NFL could partner with Oakland on new Raiders stadium

Something really weird appears to be going on in Oakland, where there are suddenly reports that the NFL could be stepping in to develop not only a new stadium for the Raiders, but a mixed-use development around it on the Coliseum site as well. From the San Francisco Business Times:

The NFL could be the big entity that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has suggested could provide security for ground lease payments and game-day revenues from the Raiders that would be used to pay off new stadium bonds. Plus, the NFL would come in as a partner on a planned office, housing, retail and hospitality project — dubbed Coliseum City — that has stymied three other developers, most recently Floyd Kephart‘s New City Development LLC.

And from Matthew Artz of the Bay Area News Group:

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said Monday that the league isn’t offering any more help to keep the Raiders in Oakland than it would offer to help keep the Chargers in San Diego or the Rams in St. Louis.

But he added that the league is open to discussing the development opportunity in Oakland, known as Coliseum City, which the city had previously granted to a string of developers — none of which got a project off the ground.

“We have for several years stated: ‘Don’t put a real estate developer between the Raiders and the city. If there is development value available, talk to the Raiders about it, or perhaps the Raiders plus (the) league,’ ” Grubman said in an email.

Grubman was replying to a request for comment, though, I believe, which raises the question: Whose idea is this, exactly? Clearly somebody is floating it, but it doesn’t appear to be either Schaaf or Grubman, and neither article includes an initial source.

As for whether it makes sense for the NFL to built a residential and office complex: Sure, as much as it would for anybody else. But that’s the problem — Floyd Kephart’s Coliseum City plan didn’t crash and burn because he was a terrible developer, it did so because he didn’t have a way to generate $400 million from thin air to pay for the part of the stadium costs Raiders owner Mark Davis didn’t want to cover. The NFL or Davis could take over for Kephart, sure, but they’re going to face the same problem if new development isn’t enough to throw off $400 million in excess profits. (SPOILER: It won’t be, no matter how hot the Bay Area housing market is right now.)

All this seems like somebody’s way to make it seem like there’s some progress being made in Oakland ahead of the league’s December 28 deadline to get somewhere on new stadiums in Oakland, St. Louis, and San Diego. Whether it’s Oakland officials trying to make the case to the NFL that their stadium plans aren’t dead, or NFL officials trying to make the case to any Mark Davis supporters in the owners’ group that they wouldn’t be leaving him high and dry in the event of the Rams and Chargers getting to move to L.A., I couldn’t tell you.

Meanwhile, well-connected NFL reporter Peter King claims that “the Carson proposal—with either the Chargers and Raiders together, or the Chargers alone—seems to have more momentum than Stan Kroenke’s plan to move the Rams to a complex in Inglewood.” Of course, King earlier this year predicted that the Chargers and Rams would both end up in Inglewood, but maybe his sources are indicating that opinions have shifted among NFL owners since then? Or somebody is trying to spin him for their own purposes. It’s going to be really hard to separate the information from the disinformation over the next few weeks, I’m afraid.

St. Louis shuffles Rams stadium funding streams, and other exciting NFL-to-LA non-news

Speaking of things that miraculously keep burning way longer than you ever thought possible, here’s the latest from the debates over whether and which NFL teams will move to Los Angeles:

December 28 is the alleged NFL deadline by which cities have to submit their stadium plans or else risk losing teams to L.A. I have no idea what happens if some city comes up with new plans on, say, December 29 — do the NFL owners put their hands over their collective ears and shout, “Not listening! Not listening!”? — but at least it should make for some excitement during an otherwise slow news week.

NFL owners set January vote on L.A. move, probably still won’t be able to pick winner by then

The NFL owners held another one of their closed-door meetings on relocating teams to Los Angeles yesterday, but hoo boy, did the fireworks ever spill out into public:

  • The owners set a December 28 deadline for St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland to make their final stadium offers, and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and New York Giants owner Steve Tisch said they hope for an owners’ vote on which team(s) will move on January 12 or 13 — though, of course, setting arbitrary deadlines and then moving them back is standard operating procedure for sports leagues. (Also, when asked by the L.A. Times if a final vote would really happen in January, Tisch replied, “I’ve lost all my psychic powers. Especially regarding this subject.”)
  • Houston Texans owner Bob McNair warned St. Louis officials that they need to “firm up” their stadium plan for the Rams if they want it to be considered by the league — an apparent attempt to get the St. Louis board of aldermen to vote on the stadium funding bill next week before it goes on holiday break, under pain of being told “Sorry, too late.”
  • Rams owner Stan Kroenke has reiterated that he’d be open to sharing an Inglewood stadium with the Chargers. That would eliminate the Chargers’ planned Carson stadium (if  Chargers owner Dean Spanos went for it) and leave the Raiders stuck in Oakland — or more likely, negotiating with St. Louis to try to grab whatever deal Kroenke left on the table there.

Put all the tea leaves together, and this certainly sounds like the NFL is trying to negotiate a deal that makes the maximum number of league parties happy: Kroenke gets to go to L.A. and gets another team to help him pay his $1.86 billion stadium bill (via an equity stake or rent payments, it doesn’t matter); Spanos gets to stop having to fight with San Diego for stadium subsidies, even if it means playing second fiddle to Kroenke; and Raiders owner Mark Davis … well, nobody really cares about Mark Davis, but at least he can have St. Louis as a fallback plan — which would also mean that the NFL wouldn’t be entirely throwing away that offer of public stadium cash, just pushing back the timeline a bit on how long to take to shake it loose.

As always, though, it’s important to remember that “the NFL” isn’t really a single entity, but rather 32 rich guys trying to hash out a deal. It’s possible that this one will make enough people happy that they can get the necessary three-quarters majority to approve it — or it could be that the room remains splintered, or talks break down over how much of a relocation fee to demand from any owners who move, or any of a number of different things. In fact:

“It’s hard to see one of the proposals as getting 24 votes,” Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters on Wednesday, adding: “I don’t think we’re extremely close right now.”

Maybe it’s time we crowdsource the likely outcome here — anyone want to start up a betting line on which teams move? Though the only way to accurately predict it would probably be a betting line only open to NFL owners, so scrap that idea. I’m going back to throwing darts at the wall.