PHOENIX – Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL's relocation efforts into Los Angeles weren't 'focused on the 2016 season."
Surprised that take didn't come with a wink and a smile.
Los Angeles was a hot topic at this week’s NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore hotel; all signs and a few public comments from prominent owners predicted that one and possibly two teams will move to L.A. in the 2016 season. That seems likely, but doesn't serve the NFL's interests at this stage.
Goodell inferentially kept the pressure on home markets in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland trying to keep their teams while momentum builds to bring teams back to the nation's second-largest media market. In order to do so for the time being, the commissioner would not commit to something that seems like a strong possibility at this stage.
"Right now, we’re focused on the process and making sure that we’re evaluating opportunities in existing home markets,” Goodell said in a press conference that concluded the owners meetings.
Tangible progress has been hard to come by lately in the East Bay, thought Tuesday brought a step in the right direction. Alameda County unanimously approved another exclusive negotiating agreement with San Diego-based developer Floyd Kephart, a pact the City of Oakland approved last week. There is optimism that something will come from this new six-month agreement with both Oakland and Alameda County, one that it will generate a financial plan for a privately funded Coliseum City development intended to include a new football stadium for the Raiders and possibly MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
While there is skepticism within the league surrounding the East Bay efforts, the new ENA is absolutely a source of positivity that could lead to the tangible progress the NFL is looking for. We'll see if that happens. Kephart must produce documents in the summer showing the project is feasible and that private financing can be secured. The project still doesn't hasn't received a public commitment from the Raiders, who are leaving their options open at this stage.
The league and the Raiders were involved in a Monday presentation about possible Los Angeles relocation and the progress within home markets of the St. Louis Rams, Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
Goodell said those teams will provide another progress report in late April, which will promote further discussion at the spring league meeting from May 18-20 in San Francisco.
“There will be a tremendous amount of focus on stadium alternatives and marketing studies in all markets in addition to the work we’ve done,” Goodell said. “I expect that will continue in a very disciplined way.”
Many have suggested that the fate of teams considering Los Angeles, especially for the 2016 season, could be furthered at the fall league meeting from Oct. 7-8 in New York.
The NFL teams can apply for relocation from Jan. 1-Feb. 15 each year, but Goodell said the league has considered moving that window up into late 2015. That would really apply pressure to get something done in the East Bay.
“We’ve had some discussions within our committee about the timeframe, if there was a relocation,” Goodell said. “There’s a lot to do when you relocate a franchise, and if a decision were made earlier, would that give franchise the time needed to properly transition to a new marketplace if there is a relocation. That’s been discussed, but we haven’t reached a conclusion on that.”