NFL investigating L.A. relocation options

The NFL is getting serious about relocating one (or more) of three franchises to the Los Angeles market.

NFL officials and officials from three teams met this week to discuss the options for moving a franchise to Los Angeles, focusing solely on that topic during a meeting in Chicago.

The NFL considered the possibility of moving the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers or St. Louis Rams to the long-vacated L.A. market. Maybe even more than one of those teams.

“Our objective coming into it was to make sure that every club understood exactly what was going on with the Los Angeles proposals, as we understand them, what was going on in each of those three markets – Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis. And also to give them a little bit of an understanding of how we’re thinking about the process, the timeline from here, including particularly getting feedback from the clubs with respect to their views of what information they need to make the right kinds of decisions consistent
with our relocation policy,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Eric Grubman, the executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations was part of the discussion.

The NFL representatives and members from the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers discussed potential seat deposit campaigns in Los Angeles, relocation fees and stadium progress in L.A.

The timeline for a relocation of one of the franchises hasn’t been nailed down yet, with many of the particulars still being formed. A temporary stadium for a franchise relocated to the L.A. market is a possibility.

“With respect to temporary facilities, what’s been very public is that fact that we engaged in an RFP process,” Grubman said. “What has also been very public is, many of the responses for potential participants in RFP, [is that] we are engaged in discussion along those lines.”

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed a $1.8 billion stadium on the site of Hollywood Park. The Raiders and Chargers are both targeting a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, south of downtown Los Angeles, that they would share.

It’s possible that more than one of the three franchises could relocated to the Los Angeles.

“What we focused on was the status update and making sure we understand the process and what it takes to be successful in Los Angeles if we decide to do that,” Goodell said of the meeting. “If a team or teams qualify to relocate, making sure that we’re successful in Los Angeles, and that is our number one objective.”

Franchises considering relocation to Los Angeles were asked to file for relocation between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, but league officials say that timeline might be moved up with the possibility of a team playing in Los Angeles as soon as the 2016 season.

The second-largest media market in the United States has been devoid of an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders both left after the 1994 season.

“The league really prides itself in the way that it shares revenues, TV money, salary cap,” Grubman said. “We’re in a situation now where you have owners competing against other owners for a prize. What has the league done, what does it have in place to address this sensitive situation where you have owners competing with owners in an unnatural way for a ‘prize?’”

Gubman said the Raiders have made no formal proposal for relocation.

“We’ve said one thing consistently to any of the markets that have been engaged in trying to put forth a proposal and it really rests on a couple of pillars,” Grubman said. “One of them is that a proposal has to be specific. The second is that it has to be attractive to a team and the third is it has to be actionable. And so what actionable means is it can’t just be an idea to the extent that there is enabling legislation or enabling financing activities or there are litigation threats or anything of that nature, anything that needs to be assembled in a time frame where a club can act on it. Thus far, those sorts of tests have not been made in Oakland.”

Grubman said there is no “artificial” deadline in place, so teams must submit an “actionable” request, which includes a proposal for legislation.

San Diego submitted a proposal that had “a significant amount of progress,” Grubman said.

“They also went through their strategy for dealing with various risks and threats,” Grubman said of the San Diego proposal. “Could be a litigation threat or an environmental, permitting and certifications; there could be threats from a standpoint of the necessary public support that the mayor has called for.”

The San Diego proposal has more that needs to be defined, and the NFL is considering a proposal of cross ownership in the case of St. Louis’ proposal, which has made significant progress, Grubman said.

“There is a litigation threat. They are continuing to assemble the land and the financing strategies do have to be finalized. Risks remain,” Grubman said. “They’re dealing with these risks similarly to San Diego or any market that would be going through this. We ask about the risks and the mitigation strategies and we keep asking about them until they’re eliminated. I don’t like to try to grate things mid-stream.”

Kroenke has been largely silent on the issue and NFL officials deferred to him on specifics he should address. But the NFL has been in contact with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. The Rams are on a year-to-year lease at the Edward Jones Dome, which opened in 1995.

“What I’ve said to the governor is we need to focus on developing a potential solution, a solution that will work for the fans of St. Louis,” Goodell said. “We recognize that we have great fans in that market and if there’s a potential solution, then we want to know it and I know the membership wants to know it and that’s just the focus we’ve kept.”

The NFL is leaving open the possibility to financially help with any of the three teams that don’t relocate and instead consider a new stadium in their current market.

“For us right now, there isn’t a possibility, frankly, that we’ve taken off the table. We’re going to evaluate everything that makes sense for us and that will be things that we can control and things we can’t control, necessarily,” Goodell said. “We’re long-term looking for the right solution in Los Angeles. We’re looking to make sure our teams in their current markets are successful and we will do whatever is consistent with those relocation policies and the long-term interest of our fans and our league to make sure we do the right things.”

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