HOUSTON — The NFL is closer than ever to returning to the Los Angeles area. League owners will gather Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss a move that could bring two teams back to the country’s second-biggest television market for the first time since 1995, when the Raiders and Rams left for Oakland and St. Louis, respectively.
The situation remains fluid, and there is still the chance that no final decision will be reached this week. But there appeared to be increased momentum for a proposal that would put the Chargers and Rams in the market, either in a facility in Inglewood, which would be built on land owned by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, or in nearby Carson, where the Chargers and Raiders have been working on a stadium project.
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If owners agree on a Chargers-Rams move to Los Angeles, it could help the Raiders remain in Oakland because of the likelihood that enough money could be raised through relocation fees to construct a stadium there. But Raiders owner Mark Davis, son of the team’s late founder, Al Davis, also may be open to moving to San Diego if a stadium can’t be built in Oakland. Any move, however, would require the construction of a stadium for the Raiders.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos has been steadfast in his commitment to working with the Raiders, but left open the possibility he would consider an alternative move.
“We’ve been working on it [with the Raiders] for over a year,” Spanos said Monday when arriving for this week’s meetings. But he added, “Whatever the owners’ decision is, we’ll abide by it.”
The Los Angeles relocation committee, which is chaired by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and includes Giants president and co-owner John Mara and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, met Monday evening to discuss the Los Angeles situation and prepare to brief owners Tuesday. The committee members declined to comment before leaving a Houston hotel to meet off-site.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week said that none of the cities attempting to keep their teams — St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland — offered sufficient incentives related to stadium construction to satisfy the league’s demands. That essentially cleared the path for the owners to approve the relocation of at least one and more likely two of the teams.
Any vote will require at least 24 of the league’s 32 ownership groups to approve a relocation of one or two teams.
Will the Rams-Chargers plan work?
“Can’t tell yet,” one person familiar with the inner workings of the stadium situation said late Monday.
Placing a team in the Los Angeles market has been a vexing problem for the league since the Raiders and Rams pulled up stakes after the 1994 season. The league has considered expansion into the market, but their preference is to keep the league at an even 32 teams. The relocation idea always has been on the table, with several teams mentioned over the years as potential candidates, including the Rams, Raiders and Chargers. The Vikings and Cardinals were mentioned frequently, but after they arranged to have stadiums built, they remained in Minneapolis and Arizona.
Kroenke has been forceful in his drive to move the Rams, and he angered fans with a scathing report that made it clear he didn’t believe the greater St. Louis area could provide the economic incentives required for long-term sustainability.
Many owners had expressed optimism that elected officials in St. Louis and at the state level in Missouri were working toward a solution that might make a Rams move problematic. But there appears to be growing sentiment that the most practical solution is to have the team move to Los Angeles, and possibly team up with the Chargers.