SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (AP) - Three NFL teams. Billions of dollars in play. One big opportunity.
A whole lot more than California dreamin’ on a warm summer day.
NFL owners met in suburban Chicago on Tuesday to hear more about moving at least one team to the Los Angeles market. The Chargers and Raiders presented a proposal for a stadium in Carson that includes eight-plus acres of rent-free land for the league to use as it sees fit, and Rams owner Stan Kroenke also talked about his plan for a facility in Inglewood.
While Commissioner Roger Goodell said no voting of any kind occurred at the meeting, it was clear the momentum was rolling toward at least one relocated team in the Los Angeles area possibly as soon as the 2016 season.
“My own personal point of view is that I feel the likelihood is good,” New York Giants owner Steve Tisch said. “I think it’s better than 50-50.”
The traditional window for applying for relocation runs from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, but Goodell said that timeline could be moved up or tightened. He also felt the league would decide on a relocation fee this fall.
Los Angeles hasn’t had an NFL team since the Rams and Raiders departed after the 1994 season. Now they want to resume their L.A. story, and the Chargers are looking to leave their home city since 1961.
At stake is one of the country’s largest markets, and the NFL is focused on a long-term solution.
“That’s the key issue for us, making sure that whatever we ultimately decide as a membership, that we have the ability to be successful in Los Angeles for the long term,” Goodell said, “and that’s why we spent the last two decades trying to come up with a solution that we felt would provide that kind of foundation.”
The high-stakes game of musical chairs likely will send at least one team back to a market it tried to leave, but Goodell said the teams know the risk.
“Those are the circumstances as they are,” he said. “You take a risk if you file for relocation of whether it’ll be approved.”
The Chargers and Raiders, long-time AFC West rivals, are pushing a shared $1.7 billion venue involving about 170 acres in Carson, a city of 93,000 people south of downtown Los Angeles. Owners Dean Spanos of the Chargers and Mark Davis of the Raiders spoke during their 30-minute presentation at the meetings, and Carmen Policy, a former 49ers executive who was hired to help oversee the project, said the group touted the transportation and location advantages of its proposed site, and the history of the teams.
“It cures the California dilemma and you’re not only curing the California dilemma, but you’re curing it with California teams,” Policy said. “These teams have been born and bred in California. They never left California. They’ve always been in California.”
Davis said he talked about the progress that the group had made over the past six months, and he thought the presentation went well.
“You never know,” Davis said. “As I’ve said all along, Oakland is still the place that we wanted to be and we’ll just see what happens.”
The city of San Diego had its chance to speak to the NFL on Monday, making a presentation in front of the league’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities. Then the city and county unveiled updated plans for a new $1.1 billion stadium that were criticized by the Chargers.
Eric Grubman, the NFL’s point man on relocation, said the city’s proposal “evidenced a significant amount of progress,” but the committee still had several questions about possible risks and threats. The Chargers have expressed concerns about an environmental study collapsing in court.
“Those questions remain open,” Grubman said. “They are working on responses and how to mitigate those risks.”
Kroenke is proposing a $1.8 billion venue on the site of the former Hollywood Park horse track, as part of a sprawling development of homes, parks and office space. But St. Louis also is proposing a new stadium.
“The presentations that were made today by the Raiders and Chargers group was really, really well done, as was Stan’s presentation,” Tisch said.
The owners meet again in October in New York, but no relocation vote is expected at that meeting. Policy said he got the impression it would be decided by the Super Bowl.
While the special meeting was focused on the possibilities in Los Angeles, the league also announced the draft would return to Chicago next year. The location has not been finalized, but it will be near Grant Park and run from April 28-30.
The league also said it would create a selection process for future draft sites. There was no commitment made to Chicago beyond 2016, but the NFL said it will be considered for future drafts.
“We’re not afraid of moving it around,” Goodell said. “It gives people an opportunity to experience the draft that never had and may never will if we don’t. And it’s been good for the draft, it’s been good for the league, overall.”
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