NFL owner vote on relocation to L.A. expected in January
Art Rooney II, the influential Pittsburgh Steelers owner who chairs the NFL’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, expects owners to vote in January on a team or teams relocating to L.A.
Rooney’s comments came Wednesday after owners discussed L.A. during their fall meeting at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.
“There’s nothing for sure right now,” he said. “We need to take the vote and see what the result is. ... I think there will be a vote.”
Rooney believes the three teams backing two competing stadium plans in L.A. -- the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams -- will all file for relocation.
However, Eric Grubman, the NFL executive vice president who is the point man on L.A., doesn’t think the owners are tied to a January vote.
“There’s nothing that locks us into January,” he said. “There are any number of scenarios that could emerge. ... Are we so committed to January that we can’t delay? The answer is no. It’s as early as January and we’ve set it up to enable January. But we’re not committed to January.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell echoed Rooney’s prediction of a vote -- which would require 24 of the league’s 32 owners to approve a move -- but didn’t provide specifics on how the league would handle a potential stalemate between the rival plans.
The commissioner described the six-member L.A. committee as “very active” and quipped that the league has “almost exhausted them already.”
Owners are scheduled to meet again in December in Dallas.
The cross-ownership complications of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke are over.
NFL owners on Wednesday approved Kroenke’s plan, which allows him to retain ownership of the Rams, and transfers ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke. She is a Wal-Mart heiress, who, according to Forbes, is worth an estimated $4.6 billion.
The Nuggets and the Avalanche will be run by the Kroenkes’ son, Josh.
Under league rules, an owner cannot own an NFL team in one city and another pro sports franchise in another NFL city (or potential NFL city, such as Los Angeles). The reason is, the league doesn’t want NFL owners competing with each other for sports/entertainment dollars in the same city.
For those reading tea leaves on the L.A. situation, the fact that Kroenke got a thumbs-up is noteworthy because his cross-ownership situation had been viewed as an irritant among some owners. With that behind him, it removes one of the hurdles in his path to a potential relocation to L.A.
One of the significant challenges for the NFL in sorting out the Los Angeles situation is it involves pitting owner against owner, with business partners who normally work in relative harmony backing competing stadium sites in Inglewood and Carson.
The league has gone to great lengths to ensure competition between owners takes place mainly on the field, not for the sports dollar in a given city. Hence, the cross-ownership rules, which preclude someone from owning an NFL team and a different pro sports franchise in another U.S. city.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said the league is going to try to avoid turning the race for L.A. into a popularity contest among those owners considering a move.
“As owners, personal friendships come into play,” Irsay said. “But in business, mistakes are often made if they’re led by emotion. You have to be very thoughtful.
“I know each one wants to work it out at home. As owners, if we have to end up sorting it out and voting for two out of the three, that may be how it gets resolved. But hopefully there will be a lot of discussion behind the scenes where it works out that all parties are happy.”
NFL team owners Stan Kroenke and Dean Spanos discussed potential Southern California stadium locations -- including the site of the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood -- over dinner in 2013, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting.
The report of the exchange, which the source described as “very amicable,” sheds new light on the long-running competition to return the NFL to Los Angeles, as league owners discuss possible relocation of one or more teams during their fall meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Wednesday.
No votes are expected at this meeting or during a scheduled owners gathering in December, as they continue to discuss how to resolve a complex situation that includes two stadium plans for L.A. and three home markets hoping to retain their franchises.
Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams, and Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers, back competing proposals that offer starkly different visions to end the league’s two-decade absence from Los Angeles.
Kroenke’s proposal includes a domed stadium and an artificial playing surface in Inglewood. Spanos, who has teamed with the Oakland Raiders, has put forward an open-air, natural-grass facility adjacent to the 405 Freeway in Carson.
The idea of Kroenke and Spanos teaming up in Inglewood has been suggested as a solution to the conundrum, but nothing has come of previous discussions involving the site.
The Chargers, for example, had no interest in purchasing a 60-acre parcel of land owned by Wal-Mart on the periphery of the Hollywood Park site.
Kroenke bought the parcel, which isn’t large enough to be the site of a stadium on its own, in January 2014 and partnered with Stockbridge Capital, which controls the site’s remaining 238 acres, to propose a facility.
The Chargers and Stockbridge Capital had multiple phone conversations about the Hollywood Park site before the company’s deal with Kroenke, as part of the team’s wide-ranging effort to find a stadium solution after years of fruitless negotiations in San Diego. The conversations never developed into something more.
National Car Rental secured the naming rights to the proposed riverfront stadium in St. Louis on Wednesday, pledging $158 million over 20 years. The agreement hinges on an NFL team -- the city is fighting to keep the Rams -- playing in the venue.
The move wasn’t well-received by some in the NFL, however. They were puzzled that the deal was announced while league owners were meeting and didn’t view the $7.9-million-per-year accord as particularly lucrative.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones jabbed the deal in a conversation with the Sports Business Journal, saying the amount “would buy a lobby” in an L.A. stadium.
The last time naming rights were sold for a proposed NFL stadium, Farmers Insurance pledged $700 million over 20 years for AEG’s project in downtown L.A.
AEG abandoned the project -- known as Farmers Field -- earlier this year.
Neither of the current proposed stadiums in L.A. have sold naming rights.
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