Friday, January 31, 2014
Could L.A. purchase end moving talk?
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars-to-L.A. talk could finally be over.
Or, maybe not.
News broke Thursday that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke recently bought a 60-acre tract of land in Inglewood, Calif. The Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the land is located between the Forum and Inglewood, Calif., and Times sources said it could be used for a new NFL stadium.
That could mean that the wheels are starting to move in a potential Rams relocation to California, or it could be just another routine land purchase for Kroenke, who has made his fortune via land development. Kroenke already owns large pieces of land in California. If it’s the former, then talk of the Jaguars leaving Jacksonville for the West Coast should lessen considerably, if not disappear.
If it’s the latter, then the Jaguars will continue to be the subject of rumors and speculation that they will be relocating even though owner Shad Khan has given no indication he wants to move the team.
It’s really too early to tell, but ESPN.com Rams reporter Nick Wagoner presented some interesting information regarding the Rams’ lease with the city for the Edward Jones Dome. Wagoner writes that there is a clause in the lease that will kick in at the end of the 2014 season that says that as long as the stadium hasn’t been upgraded to one of the eight best in the NFL by that time, the lease becomes year-to-year beginning in 2015.
Wagoner also writes that the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and the team have been in discussions for several years on how much it would cost to make the Edward Jones Dome one of the NFL’s eight best facilities. An arbitrator ruled in favor of the Rams’ proposal last February but the SLCVC has made it clear it will not enact the proposal, which Wagoner writes will mean the lease will almost certainly expire after the 2014 season.
Not having a lease to break would eliminate the largest hurdle for a team to relocate to Los Angeles.
The Jaguars’ lease with the city expires in 2030 and it would cost nearly $100 million to break the lease, according to a Florida Times-Union report published shortly after Khan purchased the team from original owner Wayne Weaver in 2011. However, the Jaguars could break the lease with no penalties if Khan were to show the team lost money in one year and was below the NFL’s revenue average the following two years.
The Jaguars and the other 31 NFL teams would have to publicly reveal their finances for that condition to be met, which is highly unlikely.
Khan has given no indication that he plans on moving the franchise. In fact, he has sent the opposite message by investing $31 million of his own money toward improving EverBank Field.
He is contributing $20 million toward $63 million in stadium improvements that include two new video scoreboards and an interactive area inside the stadium that will include a pool. He already has spent $11 million on improvements to the weight room, locker room and training facility.