With Vote Looming, Three NFL Teams File to Relocate
As expected, the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers on Monday made their desires to move to Los Angeles official as each team filed relocation applications with the National Football League.
Their fate is now in the hands of the owners of the 29 other NFL teams – as is the long-range future of the NFL in the second-biggest market in the country.
Monday marked the opening of the league’s relocation window, and by 7 p.m. Pacific Time the Rams, Chargers and Raiders has submitted their applications.
Thus sets up a complicated three-team, two-stadium showdown that could culminate in Houston Jan. 12-13, when the league’s 32 owners gather to decide what team or teams are approved for relocation to Los Angeles and what stadium site they’ll call home.
The Houston owners meeting will be preceded by a special committee gathering in New York this week in which the 17 owners making up the NFL’s Los Angeles Opportunity committee and the stadium and finance committees will meet.
“Three teams – the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and San Diego Chargers – each submitted applications to our office today to relocate their franchises to the Los Angeles area beginning with the 2016 season,” the NFL said in a statement. “Each team submitted the appropriate documentation in support of its application as required by the NFL Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations.
“The applications will be reviewed this week by league staff and three league committees that will meet in New York on Wednesday and Thursday – the Los Angeles Opportunities, Stadium, and Finance committees. The applications will be presented for consideration at next week’s league meeting in Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday. The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs (24 of 32).”
Needless to say, there is a lot to discuss and decide if the NFL wants to get back to Los Angeles in time for the 2016 season, as hoped.
The Rams have their eyes set on moving to Inglewood, where owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a privately funded $1.8 billion, 75,000-seat stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park race track.
In the meantime, the state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis have approved a $1.1 billion stadium deal intended to keep the Rams in St. Louis. The plan calls for a $400 million state and city contribution and a $710 million commitment from the Rams and NFL.
The Rams are not interested, though, and are focused entirely on returning to Los Angeles, the region they called home from 1946 to 1994. They feel justified as a result of a decision by St. Louis leaders three years ago to decline an arbitrator’s ruling to pay $700 million for upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams current stadium, to lift the stadium among the top-tier venues in the NFL.
In doing so, St. Louis leaders breached a stipulation in the original lease the Rams signed upon moving from Los Angeles in 1994, which triggered the clause allowing the Rams to covert the lease to year-to-year with the intent to relocate. They’ve had their eyes set on Los Angeles ever since.
The Chargers and Raiders, who have waged long, unsuccessful campaigns to secure new stadium deals in San Diego and Oakland, are proposing a privately financed, $1.7 billion 75,000-seat joint stadium in Carson.
The two teams currently play in the two oldest stadiums in the NFL, and have long eyed Los Angeles as a future home pending the outcome of local stadium efforts. With neither San Diego nor Oakland delivering actionable stadium plans, the Chargers and Raiders have turned to Carson to cast their long-range futures.
The Chargers released a statement after filing their application.
“Today the San Diego Chargers submitted to the National Football League the team’s application to relocate to Los Angeles,” the statement read. “We have tried for more than 14 years, through nine separate proposals and seven different mayors, to create a world-class stadium experience for fans in San Diego. Despite these efforts, there is still no certain, actionable solution to the stadium problem. We are sad to have reached this point.
“What happens next is in the hands of the NFL’s owners, who will meet in Houston on January 12-13. The Chargers have pledged from the outset to respect whatever decision the League ownership makes.”
The Rams, likewise, issued their own statement a little later that read: “The St. Louis Rams informed the National Football League today that the Rams propose to relocate to the greaterLos Angeles metropolitan area. The relocation would be effective for the 2016 NFL League Year.”
What the league is left with, essentially, is a three-team, two-stadium race to a market in which there is room for just two teams and one stadium.
The challenge, of course, is figuring out an outcome that leaves all three teams satisfied. Or, at the very least, enables the odd team out to move onto other options from a position of strength rather than weakness.
That could prove impossible, of course, if one bid garners the necessary 24 votes next week in Houston.
However, it doesn’t appear either side has secured the necessary support to claim a win via vote. Unless that changes before the Houston meeting – or unless either the Carson or Inglewood camps convince enough owners to join them or switch sides – owners could be facing a stalemate with each side holding onto enough votes to block the other.
While that deadlock could threaten to stall the process – perhaps long enough to delay a decision on Los Angeles for the 2016 season – the more likely scenario is the impasse will be the catalyst for a negotiated outcome.
There is support within some owner circles for Rams, Chargers and Raiders owners Stan Kroenke, Dean Spanos and Mark Davis to work out an acceptable solution amongst themselves. For instance, maybe the Chargers or Raiders partner with the Rams’ partner in Inglewood and some sort of financial considerations are diverted to Oakland to help the Raiders secure a stadium deal.
The league could have some financial leeway through the G-4 loans and the expected $550 million relocation fees any team that moves to L.A. will be required to play.
If fellow owners are flexible enough, perhaps the $200 million G-4 designated for the Rams could be re-directed to the Raiders, which would give them a combined $700 million to contribute to a new home.
That is an issue for another day, For now, the Rams, Raiders and Chargers have officially declared their intentions to move to Los Angeles,