Goodell expects owners to vote on franchise relocation to LA
The NFL is moving slowly toward Los Angeles, and rapidly around the rest of the globe.
On the same Wednesday that the owners approved an extension and expansion of the international series of regular-season games, they discussed at length the desire of three teams to relocate to LA. The Rams want to leave St. Louis, the Chargers want to vacate San Diego, and the Raiders seek to move from Oakland.
Commissioner Roger Goodell expects owners will vote on franchise relocation, but when is another matter.
Goodell said the owners expressed interest "in wanting to be there, but also recognize we need to find solutions. Our relocation policy is very important."
So the league is being cautious and thorough.
"When you start out with nothing and you are trying to find a solution, you try to find all the pathways that can lead to success," said Eric Grubman, the NFL’s point man for relocation to LA. "If you find one, people aren’t necessarily optimistic it’s going to be successful because there’s a failure rate. If you find 100, then people are very optimistic. When we attacked it, we had to find more than one thing that can work.
"So what happens when you find more than one thing that can work and it’s in the NFL and it involves multiple owners and multiple cities? Then suddenly the picture becomes very murky because not everyone can get exactly what they want. And that’s the scenario that’s most likely to play out."
Los Angeles has not had an NFL franchise since 1995, when the Rams and Raiders left. The current timetable calls for submission of applications to relocate in January, when the owners could vote.
There has been speculation that timetable could be moved up to December, when the next owners meeting occurs in Dallas. But Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney said he doesn’t envision that.
"I don’t think we’ll move up the deadline," Rooney said. "We have cities that still are putting together their proposals" to keep their teams.
Grubman admitted for a team or two to call LA home next season, the latest it could get approval would probably be March or April.
The Rams are proposing a stadium in Inglewood, California, while the Raiders and Chargers jointly have one planned for Carson. Those teams’ owners were excused from a round table session during Wednesday’s fall meetings, and the other 29 owners voiced their opinions on approving any moves to LA.
Goodell said it’s "very positive" to have two alternatives in what he also called "the entertainment capital of the world."
Neither California team has had success in getting public funding for a new stadium; Goodell noted that has been happening "for decades." Missouri has come through with a plan for a $1 billion stadium to keep the Rams, but there are delays in that proposal.
While LA remains an uncertainty, more games in the United Kingdom — and probably in other locales abroad — are coming.
The owners approved more international games through 2025, including quite possibly in Mexico, Germany and Canada.
"We think it’s time to expand our international series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the U.K., but elsewhere around the world," Goodell said.
Mexico, where one regular-season game was played in 2005 and drew a record attendance of 103,467, is a front-runner for next year.
"That’s our biggest fan base, our most vibrant market," said Mark Waller, the league’s vice president/international. "It would be a logical place to start."
The NFL will announce the 2016 international games this fall. Three games are being held at London’s Wembley Stadium this season for the second straight year, and that number could be increased.
Earlier this year, the NFL agreed with English Premier League club Tottenham to play at least two games a season at its new stadium in north London, which is scheduled to open in 2018. That is a 10-year deal.
The league also is looking at Toronto and Vancouver, and several cities in Germany have expressed interest in hosting games.
The Pro Bowl also could land in international sites. Brazil has expressed interest in the all-star game, and Waller said Australia, South Africa and Asia also were potential sites, but probably not before early 2018.
— Goodell reiterated that the league will continue to vigorously pursue in court reinstating Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for using underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game. Brady had the suspension set aside in federal court last month.
— In the wake of the officiating mistake at the end of Detroit’s loss to Seattle on Monday night, Goodell said rules for use of instant replay in officiating "clearly will be discussed again" by the powerful competition committee.
— The league approved a cross-ownership proposal for Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He will be allowed to transfer ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his wife, and retain the Rams. The NFL has prohibited an owner from also having other sports franchises in different cities.
— SiriusXM satellite radio extended its deal to carry NFL broadcasts for six more years. SiriusXM has partnered with the NFL since 2004.