3 NFL cities make plea to keep team
NEW YORK (AP) — The three NFL cities in line to potentially lose their NFL teams to Los Angeles made thorough and impassioned presentations to the league Wednesday as a step toward keeping them.
Officials from Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis spoke to the league’s Los Angeles, stadium and finance committees — all three of which play some role in a potential relocation. Oakland spoke first, and was followed by San Diego and then St. Louis.
“This was an important day and the passion of the cities came through,” NFL executive Eric Grubman said. “The fans spoke in a very powerful way (at public forums in late October) and this was the opportunity for city leadership to speak with the passion they have directly to the owners.”
The Raiders and Chargers have combined on a project in Carson, California, that would cost about $1.78 billion if approved by three-fourths of the 32 owners. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is pushing a rival project in nearby Inglewood.
The league has set a special meeting in Dallas on Dec. 2 at which substantial steps could come, including moving up from January the deadline for application to relocate. But Grubman and several owners have indicated no timetable is set in stone and that a vote on relocation could come in February or March or beyond.
A vote by March would be almost a necessity for Los Angeles to have a franchise or two playing there in 2016.
No relocation fees were discussed Wednesday; that could come at the Dallas meeting before the full ownership.
“A league meeting is a different dynamic than having 15 owners in a room with the mayor …” Grubman said, adding that among team owners there has been “a common discussion of, ‘this is a really tough judgment to make.”’
Grubman projected that the Dallas meeting will include plenty of dialogue among the owners about the merits of each cities’ proposals to keep their teams, as well as the positives and negatives of each LA stadium plan.
He added that there are a myriad of issues within the plans of Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego that still must be dealt with.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer represented San Diego.
“Most importantly the owners got to hear the strong commitment politically and in the community to get this done in San Diego,” Faulconer said about getting the Chargers a new facility and keeping them in San Diego.
Faulconer said he felt the discussions were “robust.”
“Everyone in that room was fully engaged,” Faulconer said. “We talked a lot about the momentum we have in San Diego.”
While representatives from the three cities outline plans for potential new stadiums — St. Louis already has a state-backed project costing about $1 billion — the league seriously contemplates a return to Los Angeles for the first time in more than two decades. Coincidentally, the Rams and Raiders were the teams that left the LA area after the 1994 season.
The Raiders-Chargers proposal added some firepower Wednesday by announcing that Disney CEO Bob Iger has agreed to lead the effort to build the stadium should NFL owners approve the teams’ move.
Iger is set to serve under a five-year contract as non-executive chairman of Carson Holdings LLC, the joint venture to build a stadium on a 168-acre site.
“That says very strongly that an NFL return to the Los Angeles market is extraordinarily attractive,” Grubman said.
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