Robert Iger is ramping up his efforts to get Chargers and Raiders to L.A.
Proposed Carson NFL stadium(MANICA Architecture)
As the clock winds down on the NFL’s efforts to return to Los Angeles in time for the 2016 season, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger is ramping up his efforts to carry the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders across the goal line.
“I’ve been selling hard,” Iger said Thursday in his first public comments on the subject since the Chargers and Raiders announced his involvement last month in the effort to move the teams to a stadium in Carson.
Iger, who will continue to run Disney for the remaining two years of his contract, has agreed to oversee the NFL effort should the owners choose that plan over the Inglewood stadium proposal backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Although he would draw a salary of only $1 per year, Iger would have an ownership stake in the Chargers and Raiders.
He’s a lifelong NFL fan who since childhood has rooted for the Green Bay Packers. In fact, he has a bust of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi outside his Disney office.
“He asked whether I’d be interested in helping very specifically the partnership of the Raiders and Chargers move to L.A., develop a stadium, reposition themselves here,” Iger said. “I engaged in conversations with Jerry, and then with both entities.”
That could create waves in the league because Richardson is a member of the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, which is composed of six owners who will make a recommendation to the other 26. The committee members are presumed to be impartial, although Richardson has publicly said he supports the Carson project.
Iger said he did not immediately let the league know he had spoken to Richardson. “When Jerry approached me, he asked for some degree of confidentiality. I didn’t discuss it until much later with the league.”
Iger spoke on a variety of topics related to his involvement and vision for how the league should return to the nation’s second-largest market.
On why he got involved: “I think it would be great for the community to have an NFL team. It’s high time that we have that. I really was interested in the civic side of this. But I’ve also thought about my life post-Disney and how I would spend my time and my energy. The opportunity to be involved with either an NFL team, or in this case two NFL teams and a stadium project, and using my experience that I’ve obviously gained from Disney over these years to successfully move two teams here, I thought that would be a great next step for me.”
On what he can bring to the table: “When you run the Walt Disney Co., you gain a fair amount of experience in customer-facing businesses, particularly in site-based entertainment. I have a lot of experience in marketing, a lot of experience in selling, particularly tickets to site-based entertainment or movies or whatever.
On the Carson project: “There’s a tremendous amount of support for Carson. What I’m trying to do is articulate not just the vision for the project itself but the values of Carson and the specific value of two teams moving at once as well as the value of the project itself and the location.”
On the importance of not ignoring Orange County: “Orange County is a big, important market, and a football market too, particularly for the Chargers. So I think Carson is really well located to attract people both from L.A .County and Orange County and even possibly north San Diego County, particularly on a Sunday, when traffic is less of an issue.”
On what he calls “repositioning” the brand of the Raiders: “I think it’s incumbent upon us to make sure it doesn’t scare people away, in how you portray yourself, how you present yourself to the public is one way to do that. And I think with a large new stadium where you have the ability to attract a real diverse fan base, diverse geographically, diverse ethnically and diverse from an age perspective, I think you have a shot at doing that.”
On whether the NFL will be back in L.A. by next season: “I am gaining more and more confidence that the league … believes it is time to move a team or teams to L.A. I feel that they now hear the footsteps, to use a football analogy, and that the league believes it’s good for them to do it now. They’ve debated it and considered it for a long time, and now it’s time.”
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