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Disney CEO joins Chargers/Raiders Carson Stadium Project

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Disney CEO Robert Iger is the Raiders mystery investor we've been waiting to hear about for weeks now, but his role is a bit bigger than we thought.

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Remember when we were trying to figure out who the Oakland Raiders' "mystery investor" was?

I was curious why it was taking so long to announce, and it appears that there were two reasons. One, Mark Fabiani wanted to wait until the optimal time (right before representative from Oakland and San Diego were set to meet with the NFL) to release the news. Two, the San Diego Chargers wanted in on this action.

Who is Bob Iger?

Meet Bob Iger, the CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board for the Walt Disney Corporation. Not only does his company run themeparks (giving him "fan" experience), but they also own ESPN (giving him sports experience) and are the largest media company in the world (giving him the type of experience that goes a long way in Los Angeles).

Also, his themepark has been incredibly successful despite being in Orange Country, proving the notion that you don't need to be in Los Angeles to attract Angelinos to your venue.

Add in the fact that the NFL has said that they want an L.A. stadium that provides a "Disney-like" experience, and it's obvious why Iger was the guy chosen here.

So, what's in it for Iger?

Mr. Iger will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company under the terms of his contract. The agreement between Mr. Iger and Carson Holdings makes clear that Mr. Iger will not be required to provide services to Carson Holdings which conflict with his Disney duties and obligations. Mr. Iger's appointment as Non-Executive Chairman of Carson Holdings will be for an initial term of five years, with an automatic two-year renewal option. Mr. Iger's compensation as Non-Executive Chairman will be $1.00 annually. Mr. Iger will have the option, subject to League approvals, to acquire a minority, non-controlling equity ownership interest in one of either the Raiders or Chargers. Mr. Iger has committed not to exercise his option until he departs his role as Disney's Chairman and CEO.

My understanding is that Iger is out as Chairman and CEO of Disney after 2018. That lines up well with when the Carson stadium project would be finishing up, if it gets built at all. Iger could then transition into a different role as part-owner of an NFL franchise.

Giving Iger his choice of Chargers or Raiders ownership is an interesting caveat, and my guess is that this was done to keep the Raiders from being able to take Iger on as their own "mystery investor" that they could take with them to Inglewood, as the second team in Stan Kroenke's stadium. Suffice to say, the Chargers made this announcement work for them just as much as it does for the Raiders.

As far as this press release goes, it seems like Iger's only job until he takes partial ownership of one of the two teams is to add his name to the project and eventually hire the people to run the project and the stadium. It's a very hands-off role, and it should be for a $1.00 salary.

So, what's in it for the Chargers/Raiders?

This takes the Carson stadium project off of life support, just by adding Iger's name to the project. Robert Iger is the type of guy the NFL wants to be in business with, and wants owning a share of an NFL franchise.

For eventually giving up a share of one of the teams, only if the Carson stadium gets built, the Chargers and Raiders get to own the second largest market in the country and probably double the value of their franchises. From a business standpoint, that's a move you make ten times out of ten.

(Interesting side-note: Would the Chargers and Raiders compete to get Iger to take a share of the other team, so that they can hold on to as much of their team ownership as possible?)

So, what does it mean for San Diego?

Not a lot, actually.

Sure, it gives the Carson project some extra credibility, but the NFL will probably also be looking at how hands-off the position is and realize that the agreement is meaningless without a stadium being built (a stadium that is still option #2 behind the Inglewood site/stadium). It's a PR move, and a great one, but one that the NFL owners and executives will be able to see through and not be swayed by.

The big news for San Diego today will be coming out of those meetings between Kevin Faulconer and the NFL owners, that's going on in New York. At the end of the day, if those guys don't want to leave San Diego without a team, adding Iger's name to the Carson project won't change anything.