NFL Owners Target January for LA Team Vote
IRVING, TEXAS >> The text began as so many holiday texts do, wishing a happy Thanksgiving and a healthy, prosperous holiday season.
Only it came from a high-ranking National Football League executive and ended with an ominous, but hopeful final thought.
“Just remember,” the text concluded. “This time next year, we’ll be preparing to play the Thanksgiving night game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”
Well then, wouldn’t that be nice?
Of course, for that to happen, someone from the NFL needs to step up and provide the necessary leadership to end the stalemate that’s developed among the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in their quests to relocate to Southern California.
If the first day of owners meetings in this Dallas suburb is any indication, that might already be happening.
The league’s six-member L.A. owners’ committee met throughout the day here at the Four Seasons hotel and emerged committed to scheduling another Los Angeles-related owners meeting in either Dallas or Houston in mid January. Although an actual vote to decide what team or teams get the nod to relocate wasn’t officially put on the agenda, if some owners have their way, it soon will be.
“It’s my hope we’re going to have a vote in January. This needs to get done,” said New York Giants owner John Mara, who sits on the L.A. owners’ committee. “Whoever it’s going to be needs to start gearing up for next year. You can’t go too much longer than that and be ready top play a season in 2016 in a different place. So I think we need to get it done.”
The question is, how many other owners are with him?
“My sense is more people support getting it done,” Mara said.
Said fellow committee member and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt: “There is a likelihood of a vote in January.”
According to a source with knowledge of the meetings, that seemed to be the case across the board.
“They seem to be determined to have a vote in January, at least the committee does,” the source said.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos agreed.
“It seems like there is momentum building toward that,” Spanos said. “But we’ll see.”
And that is in contrast to the aftermath of last month’s owners meetings in New York in which some owners left wondering if the work ahead was so daunting that a delay to March – or perhaps punting on L.A. for 2016 all together – was more prudent.
But the tone seems to have changed, at least that was the case Tuesday.
And it will be interesting to see how all 32 owners feel once they report for a full day of meetings today.
By now, we all know the situation.
The Rams want to move to Inglewood, where owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a 75,000-seat, privately funded stadium. Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis have joined forces to build their own privately funded stadium in Carson, the result of years and years of unsuccessful attempts to secure stadium deals in their current markets.
The winning bid requires 24 votes of approval from league owners. While both sides believe they have the necessary support to block the other, neither is certain it has enough to win.
A January vote has been the target for months, although fellow owners seemed so gripped with indecision the possibility of a delay has been mentioned more prominently recently.
And the chance this might get punted to 2017 has crept into conversations as well.
That would be embarrassing and a damning indictment on a league that’s been a magnet for controversy and poor decisions the past few years.
But it speaks to the difficulty owners face figuring out a three-team, two-stadium race back to Los Angeles, which has room for a maximum of two teams and one stadium.
“Anyone who tells you they know what’s going to happen is misleading you,” Mara said. “I’ve been at every meeting, been on this committee since it started, and there’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered. And I still don’t have a sense what the other 31 teams (feel) I have a sense of how some of them feel, but not the majority of them. So a lot of things can still happen.”
Simple math, of course, suggests the objectives and hopes one or two teams might end up being denied. And that only adds to the challenge.
“My sense is one or two of them might be disappointed at the end of the day,” Mara said. “Or maybe all three, I don’t know. I don’t anticipate it being an easy vote, let’s put it that way.
“I’d like to solve all three situations if possible. But I don’t know if it is possible, But we’ll see,”
A month ago, the daunting challenge of that seemed to make owners gun shy about making a decision. There was also consideration being given to St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland efforts to produce viable stadium deals to keep their teams local.
Home market consideration still remains a priority, but Mara made it clear Tuesday there is an urgency to get this wrapped up.
At the very least, owners are targeting January to meet again. And perhaps creating a path that wraps this up sooner rather than later.
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This article was republished with permission from the original author, Vincent Bonsignore, and the original publisher, The Daily News of Los Angeles.