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NOW WHAT?: Rams open to Chargers partnership in L.A.

Is Chargers football in San Diego dead? Will the Chargers partner up with the Rams and move to Inglewood? That seems to be what the league wants, and it also appears impossible.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL owners are meeting in Dallas, TX today and it appears that the relocation of an NFL team (or teams) to Los Angeles is the main topic of conversation behind closed doors, which means that rumors and information has been leaking out. In this post, I'll attempt to tell some of the story of what is happening, along with some speculation on what I think it means.

To start, let's get a lot of our info from a reputable source: Vinny Bonsignore of the L.A. Daily News.

In a sign the St. Louis Rams have concluded their Los Angeles relocation hopes are likely tied into bringing on a second team, owner Stan Kroenke delivered a letter to the NFL's L.A. owners committee indicating a willingness to bring on a second-team partner.

The concession could break the stalemate between the Rams' Inglewood stadium proposal and the one jointly pitched for Carson by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.

Okay. That's surprising, but not shocking.

All along, we've heard many different people say that what most owners preferred was the Chargers joining the Rams in Inglewood. To date, there were three major issues with that.

  1. Stan Kroenke, being the land-owner and financier of the stadium, wanted a share of the 2nd team's profits or rent. Basically, they would be his tenants. Spanos was not interested.
  2. Dean Spanos hates Stan Kroenke, the reported result of Kroenke using dirty tactics to buy the Inglewood land from under Spanos, and doesn't trust him.
  3. The Chargers honestly believe that the Carson stadium project they are working on with the Raiders is a superior plan.

What has changed, if anything?

Well, not much.

So, what has happened? What does this letter Kroenke gave the NFL mean and why did he give it to them?

I believe the NFL, as a league, wants the Rams and Chargers together in Inglewood. And I believe that they're doing everything in their power to push Stan Kroenke and Dean Spanos towards a resolution to make it happen.

My guess is that the Chargers pushed back by saying they refused to be tenants. That it was a deal-breaker. The NFL relayed the message to Kroenke, standing firm with the Chargers, and the Rams' owner was not happy.

"If you think you can get a better deal somewhere else, you go right ahead," is what I imagine the tone of the NFL's statement was in the face of Kroenke's displeasure.

On the eve of a key NFL owners meeting in Dallas, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon met with Rams owner Stan Kroenke on Monday at Rams Park, multiple sources told the Post-Dispatch.


So, in a huff, Kroenke finally breaks his silence and sits down with the Missouri Governor. If he couldn't get what he wanted in Los Angeles, he was going to get what he wanted in St. Louis, right?

Probably not. Whatever Stan was looking for in the meeting, he didn't get, which is why later in the evening we started seeing stories like this one:

The article goes on to say that the owners lobbying for this partnership are the ones that we're previously viewed as Kroenke's "allies" and the ones pushing for the Rams owner to get his Inglewood stadium.

Spanos' Blessed Stubborness

If anyone can save football in San Diego now, it's Dean Spanos. He has dug his heels in on Carson, which is to say that he doesn't appear ready to take the gift-wrapped opportunity to move his team to Inglewood from San Diego and increase the team's value and revenue by a bit.

Maybe this is Dean's way of negotiating with Stan Kroenke, but it's a dangerous game. While the Rams prefer to partner with the Chargers, my guess is that they'd partner with the Raiders if it were the only way to get that Inglewood stadium built.

So, now we sit and wait for another month and a half. Will the Chargers and/or Raiders turn on the other, bailing on the Carson project? Have they made a pact to not do that, in hopes that the league rewards whichever team gets left out?

Think about it. If two teams want to move to L.A. and a third feels left out, too bad. If three teams want to move to L.A. and one of them is told they're not allowed while the other two are, that's unfair. That requires something extra.

What could actually happen?

Best-case scenario for the city of San Diego, and maybe the Chargers, is Kroenke partnering up with Davis and the NFL finding a way to toss some extra money at a San Diego stadium project on behalf of the team.

Worst-case scenario for the city of San Diego is Spanos softening his stance, or Kroenke moving the negotiating line even further in their favor.

One theory that is bouncing around in my head is that Kroenke wants to move to Inglewood as the only team, while the league is imploring him to find a 2nd team immediately. They may have even given him a choice between the Chargers or Raiders to pursue. There's a chance this whole courting of Dean Spanos is Kroenke's way of fulfilling that obligation so he can say "I tried." He may have even picked Spanos, knowing that Dean would never partner up with him.

In that scenario, Kroenke would move to L.A. as the NFL's only team, in a stadium that could house a 2nd team in the future (for leverage plays or more).

What will actually happen is anybody's guess.