Holy Ram nation, Mr. Spanos

Chargers' L.A. option may vanish if Inglewood council okays Kroenke stadium

According to two stories (February 9 and February 12), in the Los Angeles Times, the Inglewood City Council could vote as early as February 24 on developer Stan Kroenke's plan to build a $1.5 billion football stadium with a retractable roof at the former Hollywood Park racetrack. The developers have cooked up ways to bypass environmental reviews. There are more than enough signatures to put the matter on the June ballot, but it's likely the council will approve the plan for the 80,000-seat stadium outright. The stadium seems to have overwhelming public backing.

There are two other stadium proposals — one downtown — on the table, but Inglewood seems to have a big lead.

Kroenke owns the St. Louis Rams, and commentators think he will try to move the team to Los Angeles. The Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. The team could not get satisfactory subsidies from a Southern California location and were able to move into a new indoor stadium in St. Louis for very little monetary outlay. Now, St. Louis is trying to put together plans for a subsidized $900 million stadium on the riverfront to keep the team.

The Times stories do not address the Chargers' situation. Management claims it gets 30 percent of its revenue from the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. Thus, if the estimate is true, the existence of one or two teams in L.A. would almost force the Chargers to move. They have not been able to work a deal in Los Angeles but may still be negotiating. One problem is that the Spanos family, owner of the Chargers, does not appear to have the funds of other National Football League owners — perhaps not enough to move to the Los Angeles area or contribute significant funds to a new St. Louis facility. But the Chargers could have the funds to occupy the current St. Louis stadium, which has been in use for only two decades.

San Diego is the 17th largest United States metropolitan area with a population of 3.2 million. St. Louis is 19th with a population of 2.8 million. However, both markets have the same problem: a shortage of extremely wealthy people who would occupy luxury suites and seats and buy personal seat licenses.

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Time for an new professional football league. The NFL is out of control.

MichaelValentine: But despite all the league's well-publicized woes -- particularly the concussion problem -- the National Football League has the public by the throat, and not just in the United States. Look at TV ratings. If the league comes down off its high perch, it will be a slow process -- probably a result of families not letting sons play the game.

If LA gets a new stadium, and one or two teams, the Chargers have a problem if, as they claim, 30 percent of their revenue comes from Orange County and Los Angeles. I question whether the Chargers have the money to put a significant sum in a new L.A. stadium. I suspect if the Chargers go to L.A., the Spanos family will have to sell the team, or at least 51 percent of it. Best, Don Bauder

It wouldn't be the first time San Diego put up a team to challenge the NFL. I recall when the AFL came about and forced the NFL to expand.

MichaelValentine: The Chargers were originally a Los Angeles team. But the press hardly covered the team and it couldn't draw crowds. The late Jack Murphy, former Union sports columnist, talked the owner of the Los Angeles Chargers into moving to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Is there some reason, with so much of the family fortune tied up in the team, that the Spanos gang would NOT want to sell part of the team? Diversification works, Dean Spanos has been described for years as lacking interest in running the show, and the next generation may be even less bonded to the team. What's the problem here?

There's a bigger issue with the NFL, and that is too much of the US public really seems to care who wins and who loses, even when they have no team locally or sometimes in the region. When Superbowl Sunday ceases to be a secular holiday and goes back to being just another Sunday with some football games, then the NFL will have lost its grip. I don't see that happening for a long time. Forty years ago, that dumb game was about the most-watched thing on TV every year, and its build-up every year has just gotten more intense. It will likely take longer for NFL to fade away than it did for the NFL to create its own holiday, especially in this age of HDTV and plenty of money to waste on spectator sports.

Visduh: My theory on why the Spanos family doesn't sell is this: Alex Spanos is deeply demented. My guess is that his wife doesn't want the family to sell the team out of respect for Alex. She may have to pass away before any sale could go through. This is just a theory; I don't know it to be true.

I agree with you that it will be a long time before the NFL loses its grip on the public. Best, Don Bauder

"the National Football League has the public by the throat," more like a bunch of persons being duped into thinking it is more than just entertainment ( staged or otherwise cotrived)

Murphyjunk: Staged. Hmmm. I tell people they are nuts to bet on pro sports, particularly pro football, because some people may KNOW how the point spread will come out. Best, Don Bauder

I've always questioned Spanos claim that 30% of his revenue comes from L.A. I know of 5 guys I grew up with that live in Los Angeles now that have season tickets and will continue to come down here on game day even if there are 2 other teams in L.A.

escomaniac: Note that when I give out that claim of 30 percent I always throw out a hint that I don't believe it. And I do not believe it. I think Fabiani/Dean Spanos threw the claim out there to frighten San Diegans, and also have another alibi if they move. It's just one of many ploys they have used. Best, Don Bauder

Michael Grande: Yes, I would say the Oakland Raiders are a prospect to occupy the St. Louis stadium if the Rams leave, which looks pretty likely. The reason that stadium is attractive is that it would cost next to nothing to play there. St. Louis is very anxious to have a team -- and not to be stood up a second time. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for the great reporting as always Don.

Here's a couple of things I don't quite get - sorry if you've already covered this elsewhere and I'm being slow.

  1. I thought that it was likely 2 teams would likely share any LA stadium - the Rams and either the Chargers or Raiders. Is that not true anymore? Will it only be 1 team in L.A.

  2. Hypothetically, why couldn't the Spanos family get financing to build a stadium? If the Spanos net worth is roughly $1B and a new stadium would increase the value of the Chargers by at least $500M then shouldn't they easily be able to get financing for a new stadium? (Not that that would ever happen but in theory it would seem to me there shouldn't be any fundamental reason they couldn't get financing).

ImJustABill: 1. There is still discussion that L.A. will get two teams -- one in the AFC and one in the NFC, and they would probably share a stadium, as the Giants and Jets do in New York (New Jersey). But I don't think the Spanos family has the money to put significant funds in a Los Angeles stadium. Thus, I think the team, or control of it, will have to be sold for the Chargers to get into that market.

  1. Hypothetically, the Spanos family could get financing for a stadium. However, the NFL's preferred version of financing is having taxpayers pick up the tab. Judith Grant Long has shown that realistically in these deals, the taxpayers shell out 70 to 80 percent of a stadium. Why borrow when the taxpayers are such suckers? The NFL has loaned interest-free money for stadiums. The Chargers expect to get a big loan from the league. But where would the league most likely loan money? San Diego or LA? Need I ask?

The Chargers have said they will put up $200 million for a San Diego stadium. But that is a ruse. In that $200 million will be naming rights, advertising rights, and the like. In reality, the Spanos family is likely to put in less than $100 million in cash outlay. And that raises an interesting point: why should the team get credit for naming and advertising rights when the taxpayers are putting up 70 to 80 percent of the money for the stadium? There is no logical reason that teams should take credit for naming and ad rights. Best, Don Bauder

Gerald Reynolds: The NFL may want two teams in the Los Angeles market. It's the nation's second largest market with 13.1 million people. You say the San Diego mayor should get going lest the Chargers leave. But San Diego has an infrastructure deficit of more than $2 billion. In no way can the city -- or the city and the county -- afford to put money in a stadium for the Chargers.

If I were an NFL executive, I would not want to jump into the L.A. market with two teams initially. Remember, it had two teams, the Rams and Raiders, and both limped out of town in the mid-1990s. L.A. is a huge market but is it a big football market? One team: yes. Two teams? I would be careful, but nobody is going to ask me. Best, Don Bauder

Don--2 things contributed to the 2 teams leaving the LA area. One was the fact that even the Raiders couldn't draw enough people to the Coliseum and they couldn't get a new stadium, so Oakland made a bad stadium worse by expanding it and they went back to Oakland. The NFL couldn't stop them from returning, since they never gave them permission to leave in the first place. The other thing was Rams owner Georgia Frontiere got tired of playing in Anaheim and got St Louis to build her the domed stadium that the St Louis Rams want out of now. I think it would be much different now--especially if the NFL could convince Kroenke to allow another team to play in his facility.

Manny Hernandez: I am not sure the NFL is hell-bent on the Chargers going to L.A. One reason is that I doubt the Spanos family has the funds to put a significant amount in a stadium there. Remember: L.A. is opposed to taxpayers putting any money in a stadium. If the Chargers put in $100 million in cash, where would the rest of the money come from?

I suspect (but don't know) that 100 percent or 51 percent of the Chargers cannot be sold as long as Alex Spanos's wife is alive.

I think the league would OK the Chargers moving to L.A. if the team, or at least control of it (51 percent), is sold to somebody with funds. Best, Don Bauder

Hi, Don. Long time, no type. I still have considerable issues and this is the first time I have been able to access the site since two months ago. As for the Chargers, I have become apathetic to anything NFL. Until they address the current style of play, with its ubiquitous severe injuries, some of them career enders, and the inept officiating, amongst a multitude of other concerns, I have lost interest in the once exciting sport, now a mockery of its former self. Let them move on, there's plenty of things to fill San Diegans' needs.

Take care.

Duhb

Duhbya: Yes, welcome back. I was worried about you. The NFL will take some minor steps on the head injuries, but don't expect anything that will be meaningful. Reason: many fans are contemptuous of the new rules that limit head collisions and the like. They think the game is being sissified. The NFL has to please this audience. Best, Don Bauder

Jim Gulecas: If the Chargers become a co-occupant of a stadium built by Kroenke, they won't get to play there for free. That's guaranteed. Does the Spanos family have the money to pay rent, etc.? Best, Don Bauder

don bauder In a scenario that has the Chargers sharing a stadium with the Rams, which I personally consider unlikely, don't forget that aside from what ever deals they make with Kronke in terms of PSLs , lux boxes and concessions, the Chargers, or any other team sharing the stadium, would retain their income from merchandise sales, their 60% share of the home gate and their 1/32 share of TV revenue ($39.6 BILLION between 2019 and 2022). I don't believe that the Chargers, or any team for that matter, would have a problem making rent.

Thanks for the sentiment, Don. The truth is, I could be locked out again at any moment. The problem is entirely on my end. My provider is undergoing a huge makeover, and they're at the mercy of the company performing the task. As a result, I am unable to text or send/receive email. If I need to get a message to 919, I require assistance from photog Joe to relay it. I have thirteen years using my current email address, so I have opted to wait it out, rather than having to start from scratch and risk losing many of my occasional contacts. The timing stinks, to put it mildly.

Thanks again.

Be well.

Duhbya

If Kroenke is going to build a stadium in LA, I fail so se how this gives the Chargers any leverage in SD? Please illuminate, Mr. Bauder. Chargers won't get naming rights. They wil be tenants, with all primary benefits and revenue enjoyed by Kroenke, right? Chargers will be the red-headed step-child at Rams Park. No guarantee they get their parking revenue. Kroenke is a ruthless businesman with the deep pockets to fund a new stadium development. I doubt he will be more charitable to Fabiani & the Spanos' than the City of SD. Seems like that will box the Spanos' in, not give leverage. What am I missing?

PhilipGagnon, IIRC when Qualcom was expanded the Chargers lease gave the the vast majority of Stadium advertising money and other ancillary funds forcing the Padres to rely on ticket sales alone. Wonder how the Spanos famil;y would feel being at the receiving end of such a deal.

Government shouldn't be involved with sports franchises, period. Except to EXTRACT money from the owners for the problems they cause. It's "promote the general welfare," not "promote the 'generals' welfare."

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