In the aftermath of the news of the first legitimate Los Angeles NFL stadium plan in eight years, I’ve freshened up my investigation into what team is most likely to move to L.A. if the project happens. With all signs pointing south.
(San Diego: Nothing Personal)
There’s two critical things you need to know about the L.A. situation as it pertains to what current NFL team will end up here.
1) The guys who are leading the charge for the L.A. facility, Tim Leiweke of AEG and Casey Wasserman, have every intention of getting the facility built with or without an existing commit from an NFL team. And unlike what outsiders might think, these guys absolutely have the capacity and staying power, thanks to local political clout and financial resources, to get that done.
2) In talking to several San Diego-based media and political sources today, I’ve been told that the financial state of the city and county is in such disrepair that barring a miracle, there will be no new stadium for the Chargers.
The “miracle” would involve a facility erected with zero public funds. If the Chargers were serious about making that happen, the process would’ve started long ago.
It’s undisputed that the the main reason the NFL is not in Los Angeles is the old guard of NFL owners, who for so long have been accustomed to raping cities for new, free stadiums, has been unable to secure a similar, ridiculously lopsided deal in L.A.
With this new, downtown Los Angeles stadium bid, that is not going to change.
But what if the stadium gets built without the NFL’s involvement? That, my friends, is L.A.’s secret weapon in this case.
It isn’t a coincidence that AEG and Wasserman are embarking on another L.A. stadium bid now that it has become clear that San Diego lacks the resources to provide the Chargers with a new facility. So if you’re Chargers Owner Dean Spanos and you see the Los Angeles stadium train leaving without you, and you know that don’t have anyplace else to move, what are you going to do?
Either throw-in with L.A. or spend (at least) the next decade in dilapidated Qualcomm Stadium.
Another factor that may prompt a pre-emptive move by the Chargers is if Stan Kroenke is able to wrangle controlling interesting of the St. Louis Rams. Billionaire Kroenke, who has sports team ownership interests now all over the globe, is an extremely prominent member of the NFL’s Los Angeles stadium committee. He also has a home in Malibu and is known to fancy himself as a jet-setter type, despite his small town Missouri roots.
If Kroenke ends up majority owner of the Rams, it stands to reason that he’ll look long and hard at moving the team back to its original home.
Now if you’re Chargers Owner Spanos and you know that Kroenke may grab your only realistic alternative to being mired indefinitely in an crappy stadium in a smallish market, what would you do? (San Diego residents, don’t take this personally, I love your city.)
What’s driving this entire situation is a political perfect storm in Los Angeles allowing AEG’s Leiweke and Wasserman to get the stadium done without NFL involvement - and San Diego’s inability to fund a free (or even partially free) stadium for the Chargers. With Kroenke possibly controlling the Rams only adding to that coincidental brew.
All of these things take the L.A. situation out of the hands of the people who have previously blocked an NFL team from moving there: The crusty, old NFL owners who have forever enjoyed having 100% of the leverage in any stadium deal.
If AEG’s Leiweke and Wasserman can gain the necessary momentum to make the downtown L.A. stadium a probable occurrence without an NFL anchor tenant, you’re going to see an NFL franchise or two - or more - finally show the hand its actually holding.
Who will get that first deal? The Chargers.