The NFL has moved ever closer to relocating teams back to the Los Angeles market. Several deadlines for a possible move were established Wednesday at the league owners meetings at Los Colinas in Irving, Texas.
A special owners meeting was scheduled for Jan. 12-13 in Houston to discuss and possibly vote on relocation proposals from the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, teams with eyes on the Los Angeles market.
The St. Louis Rams are backing a stadium proposal in Inglewood, while the Chargers and Raiders are working together on a stadium project in Carson.
The league said that Jan. 4 is the first date teams can submit that relocation proposals.
Home markets are in a race against time, with airtight proposals demanded by Dec. 28. That seems like an impossible target date for any of the three home cities. St. Louis would be closest to meeting that deadline. Oakland, by contrast, is the farthest away.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said on Nov. 12 the city was looking for creative ways to finance a new Raiders venue with the city steadfastly against providing public funds for stadium construction. The Coliseum site is entitled and set in terms of environmental impact, but they are light years from reaching a standard the NFL set forth on Wednesday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference that home markets need completed proposals with no contingencies (or votes) of any kind by Dec. 28. He said the city of San Diego would not have a proposal by that deadline. He was not asked about Oakland prospects.
Goodell also said it’s possible for a city to lose a team even with a viable stadium project.
That gives all three teams the freedom to pick up and move if they choose. The Chargers have already stated their intent to file for relocation. The Raiders and Rams haven’t done that, though it's expected they will.
There are several theories floating around this issue, most of them conditional.
One flier making the rounds in Texas is that presence of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara could mean the Raiders don’t meet the league’s relocation guidelines.
The logic behind it is that Levi’s is ready to house two NFL teams and could be considered a viable, ready-to-go stadium option, even temporarily, for the Raiders despite the fact owner Mark Davis has said time and again he doesn’t want to play there. Holding the Raiders back with that logic seems difficult at best.
Davis reiterated that point to NFL Network on Wednesday, saying that he is not going to Santa Clara and doesn’t want to go to St. Louis if the Rams vacate that market.
He has long stated his preference to remain in Oakland or, if that doesn’t pan out, return to an L.A. market the Raiders occupied from 1982-94.
While news spread this morning that Rams owner Stan Kroenke is open to sharing a stadium with a somewhat equitable partner –- in terms of stadium construction and in-stadium revenue, not offsite construction -- on his Inglewood site, the Chargers weren’t excited about that proposal. Neither are the Raiders.
“I have an equitable partner,” Davis told NFL Network. “It’s (Chargers owner) Dean Spanos.”
The Raiders and Chargers continue to move forward with their Carson plan. According to ESPN, both teams are slated to meet next week with officials at StubHub! Center in Carson – an MLS facility, multi-sport venue and practice complex near the proposed Raiders-Chargers stadium -- about possible training sites and game site operations.
The NFL emerged from the owners meetings having made significant progress on relocating teams to Los Angeles, with more hurdles left to clear. It’s improper to handicap this race at this time. The Raiders are certainly players, though more on the fringe than the Rams and Charges, but believe they have a real opportunity to get back to Los Angeles.
Relocation must be approved by three-fourths of NFL owners, and it’s uncertain whether either stadium proposal has that level of support. There will be some jockeying between now and January that will establish greater clarity on this issue and how much longer, if at all, the Raiders stay in the East Bay.