Just as NFL training camps are designed to get teams up to speed for the season, the league this week will begin preparing its club owners for what could be a monumental decision.
Those owners will convene Tuesday in a suburb of Chicago — one conveniently located close to O'Hare Airport — for a special one-day meeting on the Los Angeles situation. They will get detailed updates on the Inglewood stadium proposal of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and on the competing bid for a Carson stadium jointly backed by the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
Unlike most league meetings, this one will be limited to one representative per club, which typically means the principal owner, plus one family member if desired. So, for instance, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be there, along with his son, Stephen, the team's top executive. Owners usually think they can get more done, and speak more freely, in a smaller setting.
On Monday, while many of the owners will still be en route to Chicago, representatives from the city of San Diego are expected to update the NFL's Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities on a potential new stadium in that city.
In a memo to teams last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "No votes will be taken," and underlined that for emphasis. Most likely, there will be no major developments or decisions coming out of this meeting, and owners almost certainly will emerge saying it's good that the league has two viable stadium options in L.A. It's an important gathering, nonetheless, because the majority of owners don't spend much time keeping up on the incremental details of the L.A. process, and the mere fact the league is bringing them together at this, a busy time of preparation, underscores the growing urgency surrounding a potential return to the nation's second-largest market.
There is a one-page memo from Goodell, and an accompanying nine pages from Eric Grubman, the league's executive vice president who is overseeing the L.A. process.
The Times has obtained a copy of memos, which detail what will be discussed over the course of the six-hour meeting. Owners will hear updates from league staff on the home markets of, in order, Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego. In a brief thumbnail of each situation, the league notes that St. Louis and San Diego have put forth plans that include "significant public contributions," but in the case of Oakland, "No specific proposal has been made to the Raiders or the League office."
There will be reports on a potential relocation fee if a team or teams were to move, as well as a general membership discussion during which the L.A.-interested teams will be excused from the room.
The main focus of the meeting will be presentations from representatives of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders that are expected to include descriptions of the work done to date; the overall visions, including site development; and a discussion of project design, projected costs, and financing plans.
As predicted by The Times last month, there will also be a discussion of a "seat deposit campaign," in which the league would begin accepting refundable season-ticket deposits from L.A. fans, in advance of any relocation decisions. The goal of that would be to build a robust database of potential ticket buyers for the 2016 season — even before one of the sites is chosen, or any of the teams have gotten the green light to move.