What's next for the Rams, Chargers and Raiders?
NFL football is returning to Los Angeles for the first time in 21 years, but not without a few very big questions.
Thirty owners on Tuesday approved the Rams' bid for relocation to Southern California beginning next season. They are expected to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next season and until owner Stan Kroenke's new stadium complex is built in the Inglewood neighborhood in 2019.
Also approved to move were the San Diego Chargers, who have an option to join the Rams in Inglewood which expires after one year. The Oakland Raiders were denied the opportunity to move now, but they could have an option to go to LA if the Chargers decide to stay put. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear that the Chargers and Raiders can relocate in time for the 2016 season.
The resolution raises several questions about the future of all three NFL franchises involved in the plans. Where will the Chargers play in 2016? Where will the Raiders play moving forward? What will life look like for the Rams? Will the next franchise that decides to move to Los Angeles either be co-tenants or an equal partner with the Rams? Let's break down what happened Tuesday and what's next for each team:
The city of St. Louis learned the devastating news that the NFL is moving out of town. Players said goodbye on Twitter to the city they called home for so many years. "It's bittersweet," Kroenke said. "We understand the emotions involved for our fans and it's not easy to do these things. They are purposefully made hard. ... This is the hardest undertaking I've faced in my professional career." Kroenke purchased land in Inglewood next to Los Angeles International Airport two years ago and has been planning to build a "world class" stadium — which now will be home to an NFL team.
While the Rams have called St. Louis their home since 1995, they have a bright future to look forward to. Kroenke has plans for an impressive facility that will sit on the grounds of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood. Goodell said that Kroenke's vision for the facility was one of the swaying factors. The stadium is projected to open in 2019 and it's estimated cost could reach $3 billion. St. Louis leaders expressed disappointment saying the NFL "ignored the facts." The league has said that any team relocating will pay a fee of $550 million. Kroenke can pay the relocation fee in two ways, according to St. Louis Dispatch's Jim Trotter: $550 million up front or $64 million for the next 10 years. According to the report, Kroenke is expected to pay up front. Several logistics, including when the move will occur and where the team's practice facility will be, are still to be determined.
The Chargers have the option to join the Rams in Los Angeles, but must make that decision before Jan. 16, 2017 unless referendum for a new stadium is approved prior to Nov. 15, 2016. The league has enticed both the Chargers and Raiders to stay in their current markets by offering $100 million in assistance to build a new stadium.
Owner Dean Spanos said he will weigh all of the Chargers' options. The time to work out a stadium deal in San Diego depends on the success of a public vote in either June or November. Spanos was noncommittal in his response to how feverishly he will work to find a potential solution in San Diego. The Chargers' first step is to look into what a deal with the Rams would look like. According to San Diego Union Tribune's Kevin Acee, a decision could come in the next month:
My sense is that the decision/announcement will come within the next 4 weeks or so as to whether #Chargers pursue November vote in San Diego— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) January 13, 2016
City officials said on Tuesday they'd be happy to re-open negotiations with the Chargers if they are serious in "reaching a fair agreement," according to the Union Tribune. Last September, the mayor announced a plan for a billion-dollar stadium in Mission Valley, where Qualcomm Stadium sits. The proposal would need approval by a majority of city voters and cooperation from the team. The financing proposal for the stadium includes $350 million in public money — $200 million from the city and $150 million from the county. The rest would need to be financed by the league, team and seat licenses.
The Raiders got the short end of the stick, reportedly being pulled out of the running earlier in Tuesday's voting process, but they will get an opportunity to move to Los Angeles if the Chargers opt not to, per the terms of their agreement. "We'll be working really hard to find us a home," owner Mark Davis said. "Don't feel bad. We'll get it right."
Raiders Nation is in hot pursuit of a home. If the Chargers choose to not join the Rams in Los Angeles, the Raiders will have one year to come to Los Angeles. "This is not a win for the Raiders today," Davis said. "We'll see where the Raider Nation ends up here. We're looking for a home." The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami thinks the Raiders are likely to stand pat next season:
Many observers anticipate that Davis will receive money from the Rams and Chargers relocation fees to use on a new stadium to build in Oakland.