Could be good news for St. Louis.
Definitely a headache for Kroenke...which is awesome.
Bernie: Latest chapter in LA stadium saga could benefit St. Louis’ efforts to keep Ramshttp://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/ ... 175b5.html
The latest turn in the NFL’s game of California scheming is a real stunner: traditional rivals San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are becoming partners on a plan to build a privately financed $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, a suburb located 13 miles south of Los Angeles.
This is potentially good news for St. Louis.
And a potentially bad development for Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
I say “potentially” because it would be a mistake to jump to conclusions. The stadium game in LA has reached a fever-pitch level. Wealthy, greedy, increasingly desperate men are willing to shove their loyal fan bases aside to further enrich themselves by winning the battle of Los Angeles.
This is pure madness, and no outcome should be ruled out.
But yes, this could work in STL’s favor.
After standing on the side and barking about their inadequate, antiquated, existing stadiums, Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis finally took action and jumped into the fray.
The Chargers and Raiders aren’t willing to concede the LA territory without a fight.
In a three-franchise race for one or two Los Angeles slots, Kroenke made the first move and staked an early advantage by announcing plans last month to build an 80,000-seat stadium on the old Hollywood Park grounds in Inglewood, Calif.
All of the momentum seemed to be in his favor. Kroenke and his investment partners left little to chance, going as far as pushing more than $100,000 in contributions across the desk of Inglewood politicians in recent years to curry favor and expedite the stadium process there.
Rather than idly watch Kroenke roll in the tanks, pull the Rams out of the Midwest, invade SoCal and take control of a lucrative market, the California-based Chargers and Raiders have mounted a vigorous defense of their home-state territory. They’re attempting to execute a double-team block on Kroenke.
The NFL won’t have three teams in Los Angeles, so one of the three teams will lose out. And if the Carson project truly is on solid ground, the loser could be Kroenke.
So how does the Chargers-Raiders advance on Carson help St. Louis keep the Rams?
Let us review:
• If the NFL eventually must choose between Inglewood and Carson, then Carson has the edge. Why? When in doubt, go with the best cash flow. Go with the surest thing financially. A two-team stadium would generate more cash and stand on firmer financial ground than a one-team stadium.
• Relocation fees: The NFL can extract a relocation fee from one team … or collect relocation payments from two teams. Do the math.
• If the Chargers and Raiders pull this off and land in Carson, then the NFL will have rectified the league’s two worst stadium situations. The Chargers and Raiders have been stuck in old multipurpose-model era venues for too long. With the teams having little chance to get new, publicly financed stadiums in San Diego and Oakland, the Carson stadium solves a longstanding NFL problem.
• If the NFL has to make a choice here, then why would they abandon a market (St. Louis) that’s offering to build a new stadium for the second time in 25 years? Why allow Kroenke to jump ahead of Spanos and Davis, who have been waiting much longer than Kroenke for stadium relief? Why reward the one owner, Kroenke, with the right to move if he rejects a good-faith effort to build him a new stadium in St. Louis?
• Instead of granting the Los Angeles territory to a man (Kroenke) who played a major role in the abandonment of Southern California by helping Georgia Frontiere cash in with the Rams in St. Louis, the NFL has an opportunity to take care of two California-based franchises that have more pressing needs for a new stadium. As one NFL executive told me several months ago: the league prefers that the California problem be solved in California — and not by stripping a franchise from another region. Well, here’s the league’s chance to implement a California Solution.
• Three markets are in danger of losing their NFL franchise. But only one of the three markets, St. Louis, is trying to build a new stadium. So let me get this straight: the NFL would prefer to have Kroenke walk away from a new stadium in St. Louis and keep Spanos and Davis locked into deteriorating stadiums that should have been replaced many years ago? That’s asinine.
Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s raise the caution flag.
There are ways for Kroenke to prevail.
The Carson deal could collapse. As a general principle, LA stadium plans should be viewed with skepticism. There hasn’t been a new football stadium built in Southern California since the 1920s. In Los Angeles stadium designs get shredded as frequently as rejected film scripts.
It’s an extreme long shot, but Oakland and/or San Diego could pull off a major upset and each come up with the public funding for a new stadium.
Kroenke could be pragmatic and devious and approach Spanos or Davis about becoming his partner in Inglewood. Split one off from the other, and then get the two-team stadium clout on your side.
In his lust for Los Angeles, Kroenke could go maniac-level rogue by attempting to haul the Rams to LA as soon as possible. Get there first, force the league into an extended court battle, and blow up the Chargers-Raiders Carson strategy. No one knows if the league would have the guts to block Kroenke from moving.
So maybe he’ll ignore the relocation rules and take his chances in court.
This is a long, volatile game. We can expect more power moves and jockeying before it’s all over.
On behalf of St. Louis Rams fans, I’d like to welcome Raiders and Chargers fans to the high-anxiety club.
What an embarrassing, hideous mess this is for the NFL: three markets about to enter possible lame-duck seasons, with fans in all three places fretting over their teams revving up for a cut-and-run move to Los Angeles after the 2015 campaign.
Deflated footballs apparently are more important to the NFL than deflated fan bases.