Besides the general discussions about NFL rules changes, potential draft moves, and remaining free-agency discussions, this year's NFL Owner's meetings is where a great deal of politicking will be done by the three teams (Chargers, Raiders, Rams) in the running to move to Los Angeles.
In terms of politicking, there will be updates on stadium proposals in Los Angeles, Oakland, St. Louis, and San Diego, as well as attempts to curry favor with fellow owners and the NFL league office, to make sure potential relocation votes are lined up to secure or block a move.
Without further ado, let's see where everyone is standing as of right now:
St. Louis Rams
The biggest splash will come from Rams' owner Stan Kroenke, who revealed the detailed plans for his Inglewood stadium proposal in this article by Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. The key points in the article are:
- The facility will have a roof, which allow for hosting of other events (such as a Final Four)
- The stadium will be built with the ability to house two NFL tenants
- The facility will only extend 175 feet above the ground, which allows it to remain in compliance with FAA regulations for facilities built close to Los Angeles International Airport
- Detailed planning has commenced, allowing for construction blueprints
- Construction permits should be in hand by December
Meanwhile, the proposal for a new riverfront stadium in St. Louis hit a snag during the past week. According to this article by Alex Stuckey of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by a 26-5 vote, the Missouri State Senate passed a measure which prohibits the Governor from extending bonds without getting an affirmative vote from the state legislature. This cast some doubt on whether the proposed stadium along the Mississippi River can be financed without finding alternate sources of revenue.
On Friday, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a proposal to include Alameda County in a plan to develop their jointly owned land where the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oracle Arena, and parking lot is located. This article by Mike Blasky of the Contra-Costa Times details the scope of the project.
The plan is called Coliseum City, and it would comprise a major redevelopment of land south of downtown Oakland, and would include a new stadium for the Raiders, and a new ballpark for the Oakland A's.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is expected to also cast an affirmative vote on the measure on Tuesday, which would allow the private developer to begin locating investors/financing for the project. Raiders' owner Mark Davis has stated he is seeking a smaller stadium with a capacity of 55,000, and has been described as "fiercely loyal" to the Oakland fan base.
As reported by Nathan Fenno of the LA Times, the Chargers (largely on their own) have collected over 14,000 signatures for their proposed stadium in Carson. Once 8,061 of the signatures have been verified by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters as Carson residents, the proposal can be taken to the Carson City Council for a vote, or placed on a ballot initiative for a public vote.
Following an environmental review, the Carson City Council could vote to move ahead with the project on April 21st.
However, a storm cloud may be brewing on the horizon in the form of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). While AEG has attacked both the Inglewood and Carson projects, their bite may have more teeth when it comes to Carson. According to Nick Green of the Daily Breeze, AEG has major concerns about the proximity of their StubHub center (home of the LA Galaxy soccer club) to the new Carson stadium, and are threatening potential litigation based on lack of substantial environmental review.
Side Note: Although AEG's Farmer's Field proposal appears dead in the water (and AEG's option expires on April 21st) it currently remains the only "shovel-ready" project in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti believes it could still be a realistic option with a different developer, as all required environmental studies have been completed, the project is fully entitled, and the project has the support of the Los Angeles City Council.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, members of the Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) met with the San Diego City Council to provide an update on their financing plan for the Mission Valley site. CSAG Chairperson Adam Day reiterated that the financing plan would seek to avoid a tax increase, and instead finance the new stadium using a variety of methods.
The Chargers are still trying to push the Convention Center Stadium concept in downtown, however, and they've gotten staff at the UT San Diego to jump aboard that bandwagon (probably too little, too late for the UT to actually make a difference, because they were opposed to the idea when Doug Manchester firmly controlled the paper, but I digress). As a part of their push, the Chargers have been critical of any suggestion the Mission Valley site could be feasible.
On Monday, the CSAG decided to push back, and issued a press release which indicates that Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani's comments need to be re-iterating that the Chargers' original plan for Mission Valley in 2005 would not be the same plan coming out in May:
"The Chargers' plan in 2005 and 2006 relied entirely on maximizing development of the existing Qualcomm site to pay for a new stadium. Our plan will not do that." CSAG Chairman Adam Day on 3/19/15.
"I've always thought this is different than the plan that was brought forth in 2004 and 2005, which was going to be paid for by housing development and property taxes. This is -- give me 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 ideas that all come together to make it possible." - CSAG member JIm Steeg on 3/17/15.
Based on the information we have in hand, the clear leader for Los Angeles at the Quarter Pole is still Stan Kroenke's Inglewood project. Based on all available information, Kroenke's project can start construction in December of this year. And, according to this profile by ESPN's Dave Fleming, the odds of Kroenke walking away from of a project of this magnitude are low.
Also, the working history between Kroenke and AEG bears mentioning. These sports and entertainment giants have a long and successful history working together, especially in Denver. When you consider that history against Dean Spanos spurning the AEG offer for Farmers Field, plus the viable threat to AEG's StubHub Center, it's not hard at all to imagine Kroenke moving forward in Inglewood, while AEG covers his flank in regards to Carson.
Furthermore, while many imagine Spanos will be able to marshal votes from other NFL owners because of the time and money spent on a deal in San Diego without success, there's a flip side to that argument. Kroenke could reasonably argue that Spanos had 20 years to move to Los Angeles and didn't. Spanos could have purchased the Carson site years ago and didn't. Spanos could have taken the AEG deal, or Ed Roski deal, and didn't.
Lastly, while the NFL could attempt to block a move — NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell has vowed to fight a relocation to Los Angeles if a viable option exists in St. Louis — even other NFL owners seem to concede that if Kroenke really wants Los Angeles, nothing can stop him.