HOUSTON -- After a 20-plus-year hiatus, the NFL is on the brink of making its return to Los Angeles.
The owners of the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have converged here along with the rest of the league’s 29 owners in hopes of finally making one or two teams’ Los Angeles dreams a reality.
The goal is to return the nation’s most popular league to its second-largest market, which the NFL is closer to doing than at any point during the past two decades.
Here’s how it’s all expected to go down over the next two days:
The NFL’s six-member committee on Los Angeles opportunities is expected to make a final recommendation to the rest of the ownership on Tuesday morning. The owners are not bound to follow the recommendation, though specific committees often make recommendations that eventually turn into the decision.
The Rams have proposed a nearly $1.9 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, and the Raiders and Chargers have jointly proposed a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California. Both projects would be privately financed. It's also believed that a relocation fee will finally be settled, with the approved teams paying $550 million over a number of years for the right to go to Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, the owners are expected to discuss the eligibility of the three teams applying to relocate. This is a chance to examine each team’s case for moving and declare whether it has met the league’s relocation guidelines. It’s believed that this will be just a formality for all three teams after commissioner Roger Goodell’s weekend memo declaring that the three home markets failed to come up with a viable stadium plan.
At some point, Disney CEO Robert Iger is expected to address the assembled owners on behalf of the Carson project. (Disney is the parent company of ESPN.)
The official vote could come at any time, though it seems more likely that an official announcement would come on Wednesday after a day of discussions on Tuesday. There's also an outside chance that the decision will be delayed further, but the general sense here Monday night is that there's a strong desire to get this finished sooner than later. A three-quarters vote (24 of 32) is required to approve a team and corresponding stadium project.
There are two layers to the decision the owners have to make here. First, they must determine which team or teams are going to move among the Rams, Raiders and Chargers. Second, they must determine whether they prefer the Inglewood or Carson stadium project. It’s unclear if those two issues will be voted on at the same time or separately.
It’s important to note that there are other possible permutations that could be the ultimate result aside from the Rams in Inglewood or the Raiders and Chargers in Carson -- most notably, the potential for a Rams-Chargers pairing in Inglewood. The league’s goal is to find the best solution to make Los Angeles succeed long-term, so whatever it takes to get that done will be discussed.
Of the three teams, the Rams have the owner with the most financial wherewithal to make the move. Stan Kroenke is the league’s second-wealthiest owner and his Inglewood stadium project is entitled and ready to go once it is approved. The biggest concern about approving Kroenke is that he hasn’t been seeking a stadium solution as long as the Raiders or Chargers have. St. Louis was also the only one of the three cities to put forth public money for a stadium.
The Chargers and owner Dean Spanos have been attempting to get a new stadium for nearly 15 years and Spanos is well-liked by his fellow owners. The Chargers would have the shortest move to make, but some wonder about the type of following they’d have in Los Angeles compared to the Rams and Raiders.
The Raiders and owner Mark Davis have a built-in fan base in Los Angeles from their previous stint in town and are one of the lowest-valued teams in the league according to Forbes. A move to the league’s second-largest market would instantly give them a major financial windfall, but that lack of money also makes the Raiders a bigger question mark when it comes to being able to succeed long-term in Los Angeles.
Any franchise approved to move to Los Angeles is expected to be in place and begin playing in a temporary venue for the 2016 season. The Inglewood and Carson projects have both targeted 2019 openings.