Today and tomorrow are the NFL meetings where owners will vote (or not) on which teams will be allowed to move to Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Times’s Sam Farmer says there could be a breakthrough in the deadlock:
On the brink of a vote that could return the NFL to Los Angeles, a consensus is building within the league for the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to share a stadium in Inglewood.
Multiple league officials and owners not involved with the Inglewood project, or the competing proposal in Carson, say there is momentum to pair the two franchises in what one owner describes as a “transformational” project backed by the Rams.
That would be huge indeed, since so far Chargers owner Dean Spanos has expressed no interest in sharing digs with the Rams in Inglewood, while Rams owner Stan Kroenke doesn’t want to go in on the Chargers site in Carson. So if everyone’s on the same page now, that’s exactly the kind of compromise that could lead to—
“On December 7, the Chargers made clear in writing that we had zero interest in the Inglewood project, and nothing has changed since then,” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said Monday in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
There’s still a chance that the Times report indicates that owners are planning to deliver Spanos an ultimatum: Either join the Rams in Inglewood or stay put in San Diego. (Farmer also reports that there’s a growing interest in holding the vote by secret ballot, which would make it easier for Spanos’s friends to vote this way without having to admit to it, though with only 32 people in the room it won’t be too hard to guess who voted how.) Though it’s equally likely that the unnamed owners who spoke with Farmer are just trying to create momentum for their plan by leaking it to the press, rather than reporting honestly on it, and the stalemate is still in place. Won’t know until we hear how the vote goes, really.
This is total speculation and tea-leaf reading, but I’m more and more leaning toward putting my money on what I suggested yesterday, an agreement that’s contingent on a deal being worked out — either “We approve the Rams and Chargers moving if they can work out a shared stadium deal” or “We approve the Rams moving, and the Chargers can too if they agree to share the Rams stadium.” That would kick the hard part — working out an agreement between Kroenke and Spanos not just on where to play but on how to divvy up the costs and revenues of a shared stadium — back to those two guys, and at least leave the rest of the league feeling like they’ve accomplished something this week. Though it would still mean we wouldn’t be sure which teams if any were moving where for several more weeks or months, and could end up leading to some really sad lame-duck seasons in 2016.
Or it could still prove impossible to get 24 votes for any one plan, and nothing could get decided. There’s really no predicting what a roomful of rich guys will do.