Sunday, December 14, 2014

NFL acknowledges intent of multiple teams to move to Los Angeles

With the deadline for teams to file relocation paperwork looming in February, and both the Rams and Raiders very interested in playing in Los Angeles in 2015, the league addressed the situation briefly during last week's owner's meeting in Dallas, league sources said.

Eric Grubman, the NFL executive overseeing the LA initiative for the league, spoke during the meeting and acknowledged that there were multiple teams with the intent of moving to Los Angeles as soon as next season, and explained that there remained multiple options for when and where those teams might relocate within the LA region, sources said.With the deadline for teams to file relocation paperwork looming in February, and both the Rams and Raiders...

Above all else, Grubman stressed what has already become painfully clear to officials of the teams seeking to move to LA, which is that the NFL will continue to dictate this process and it will be the league's decision which team or teams, and on which timeline, they move to Los Angeles.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke, whose strong desire to get to LA as soon as possible is well known in league circles, was watching particularly intently as Grubman spoke, sources said, and Rams officials remain frustrated with the pace of the process.

While the Chargers have less outward interest in getting to LA as the Rams and Raiders do, the willingness of those other clubs to move -- neither of which has a stadium lease beyond this season -- has placed additional pressure on San Diego's owners to navigate this situation and be prepared to relocate themselves if need be.

Ultimately, the degree to which the NFL can find a stadium deal it feels like will benefit all 32 teams, while at that same time placating Chargers' ownership as much as possible, is part of the complicated balancing act going on, and, even if a move to LA does not occur by the start of next season, it is seen as a forgone conclusion that some team is playing in the Rose Bowl on an interim basis by 2016 while a new stadium is being constructed.

It was reported here months ago that the league office was well aware of the intent of multiple teams to move to Los Angeles by 2015, and, if left to their own devices, those clubs would in fact be hastening their movement. However, the NFL has full control of the process via the votes necessary to gain the right to relocate, as well as the determination of relocation fees, etc.

Raiders owner Mark Davis has flirted with the idea of moving to San Antonio, though that continues to be viewed as a remote option at best and impossible at worst (it would be very difficult to get two thirds of the owners to sign off on such a move), and there are not new stadium options for the Rams and Raiders at their current homes, which are seen as palatable at this point, though the possibility remains both could end up with little choice but to seek one-year extensions of their leases if the NFL is not prepared to put one of them in Los Angeles for next season.