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Chargers head opposed to Inglewood move

Value of that stadium now $2.66 billion

Newspapers are coming up with news items as the 32 National Football League owners prepare to huddle Tuesday and Wednesday (January 12 and 13) over the Los Angeles relocation question.

The Orange County Register reports that Chargers head Dean Spanos is "vehemently opposed to moving to Inglewood." The stadium, supposedly under construction, is the one that Stan Kroenke proposes moving his St. Louis Rams to. Publications have said that Kroenke and Spanos were not on the same page, but this suggests the split may be more serious.

"Spanos has repeatedly told NFL officials he isn't interested in the Inglewood site," says the Register. That publication also says that the cost of the Inglewood stadium will reach $2.66 billion — $800 million more than previously estimated and by far the most expensive NFL stadium ever built.

The New York Times says that the relocation fee is expected to be $650 million paid over 15 or 20 years. The assumption to date has been $550 million.

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The big story being overlooked by everyone is how the three home cities of teams in limbo have put the NFL in one hell of a tough spot. The league has dangled a move to LA over the heads of various cities over the years to get them to cave to demands for a publicly funded stadium. All three cities in the current scenario basically called the league's bluff, and now the league is going to have to scramble to figure out how they are gonna deal with it. There is no way that the NFL actually wanted three teams in LA...probably even two for that matter. The city does not have a proven history of filling NFL stadiums. They suffer from the same issue that San Diego does - too many transplants, the weather is too nice, too many options for a Sunday afternoon besides watching a football game. The league knows that even two teams will spread the fanbase too thin, and what will end up happening (at best) is the early days of the Lakers and the Clippers. One team does great, the other...ehhhhh. The move to LA was meant as a threat, but in reality was far from a promise. Now the league is stuck with three cities in mutiny, and they will probably have to get creative to figure out how to punish these markets for not caving to their demands. There is one thing the NFL certainly does not want, and that is to set the precedent that cities that stand up to the NFL get their way. There are plenty of other wildcards in this story (the above details about Spanos clearly not wanting to move to Inglewood being a huge one) but the most interesting aspect will be seeing how the pieces fall after Wednesday. Teams may be reshuffled to new cities, owners may be forced out, or perhaps the NFL will simply have to send the Chargers back to San Diego with egg on their face. If anything, San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland may have just shaken up the NFL in a fashion that the league has never experienced before.

Dryw Keltz: Yours is a perspicacious analysis. This blog has mentioned several times that the league absolutely does not want any city to refuse to subsidize a team owner. But the L.A. market seems -- repeat, SEEMS -- too juicy, despite the disappointing history of the Raiders and Rams there.

I do not believe Carson will work in part because of the big dependence on personal seat license sales. Would you shell out big bucks for a PSL for the Raiders or Chargers? If Kroenke decides to sell Rams PSLs to help finance Inglewood, I can't see people shelling out big bucks for a guaranteed seat to see that team play. The Rams, Raiders, and Chargers all had bad seasons in 2015.

Three teams will not be allowed in L.A. My guess is that the odd man out will be Oakland. But you may be right: the Chargers may have to return to San Diego, hat in hand, wagging their tails behind them, admitting they are mendicants. Now, they are making a bundle at the Q, partly because their rent is so low. The Chargers' contract at Qualcomm is up in 2020. Suppose they return to San Diego, but the word gets out that they are still trying to get to L.A. (or London, or some other city.) They wouldn't sell tickets to games.

Here's another scenario that I have raised before: the owners choose the Carson site. But as it is being built, the realization hits home: the financing is going to fall apart.

There is risk in this move. The Chargers are already making a bundle of money at Qualcomm. They are paying very little rent there. Yes, L.A. is a much bigger and richer market, and the economics of the league have changed. More and more, attendees have to be rich. L.A., home of the entertainment industry, is loaded with billionaires. But maybe all three teams are expecting too much from that market. Best, Don Bauder

P-perspicacious? Mendicants? Verisimilitude? conspicuity?

A-re you the kid I used to watch being beat up after school?

Flapper: I have not used conspicuity. If you watched me being beaten up after school, why didn't you come to my defense and pound the bullies? Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for verifying what I presumed: that the Chsrgers' revenue was substantial.

NothingSurprisesMeAnymore. Each team gets about $188 million in yearly revenue from TV. Plus, the Chargers pay almost no rent at Qualcomm. The team is making scads of money playing at Qualcomm.

The claim that the Chargers, or Raiders or Rams, wants to go to L.A. to improve the team is dubious. The extra money will go into the pockets of the owners. The way the NFL is set up (the draft, salary cap) the team won't be improved by a fancier stadium. Example: Dallas has the most opulent stadium in the league. The team stinks. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder One correction to your column. The stadium is not "supposedly under construction". No one involved, either the NFL or Kroenke, has made such a claim. Work is underway at the proposed stadium site. They have completed most of the demo work for the site and are working on grading and finishing infrastructure work, with the goal of being in position to start building the stadium in a year. Apparently, they are ahead of that schedule.

danfogel: I have read different tales. Some say stadium work has started, others say it's just work that could be part of the entertainment complex if the stadium is not built. I used the word "supposedly" as my hedge. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder Here is where I got my information:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-inglewood-nfl-stadium-20151221-story.html

I would tend to give more credence to someone who has actually been there and talked to the development manager. But that's just me.

BTW, I read this earlier today:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-nfl-la-relocation-20160112-story.html

danfogel: Yes, I saw that this morning. It is quite possible that the consensus is moving toward the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood. Best, Don Bauder

Reports have circulated stating that stadium construction could start in a matter of weeks if/when the Rams are approved to move back to LA. I think the Inglewood mayor said that, but I am not sure.

aardvark: I read that the mayor said that the construction would go ahead even if Kroenke didn't get the OK to move. Then, if memory serves me correctly, the mayor backed off that statement. Best, Don Bauder

Don, since you have followed this story so closely, do you think that even if the Chargers roll the NFL will still try to get a new stadium built here within the next ten years? My suspicion is that the league very much wants SD to host Superbowls...even if there is a new stadium in LA. I was even thinking that the NFL could have a decent amount of success using San Diego as a city with no home team that only hosted exhibition games. It would basically be a SoCal version of the London games. You load up the schedule with teams who have a great travelling fanbase (Stillers, Green Bay, Broncos) and sell the fans on the games/mini-vacation package. The Chargers apparently did this to some extent this year and it seemed to work well. It would be completely outside of the regular NFL box, but it could give the league an option for a good superbowl stadium in a temperate climate. We are only one week-long blizzard away from Superbowls in New Jersey and Minnesota becoming a thing of the past. I suspect in the future that the NFL will construct a handful of superstadiums (similar to Texas Stadium) that will rotate Superbowls in temperate climates. The other remaining stadiums will shrink in size while increasing in luxury boxes. Every seat will be great, but it will cost you at least $300-$500 to attend a game. The uber-wealthy will become season ticket holders, while the lower and middle-class will only attend games on special occasions. The proposed stadium in the east village was going to shrink and follow this model somewhat. Less seats, less fans, but better views and way more revenue.

Perhaps you missed the Super Bowl in Dallas 5 years ago. Or maybe the fact that Minnesota will be playing in a dome next season and will be hosting Super Bowl LII in 2018. Super Bowl LI is in Houston. Super Bowl LIII will either be or in Florida or a dome and Super Bowl LIV will be decided between losing candidate cities for LIII and whichever stadium is built in Los Angeles, most likely Inglewood. Dallas and Phoenix have already submitted a request for consideration for 2021. The NFL typically awards a Super Bowl to new stadiums in warm-weather cities and new domed stadiums in cold-weather cities. New Jersey was an exception, one not likely to be repeated for quite sometime

danfogel: Yes, cities whose taxpayers cough up for a stadium get rewarded with a Super Bowl. (Some reward! Cities make little and may even lose money as hosts.) One of the phoniest arguments is that San Diego taxpayers should build a stadium because the city would regularly get Super Bowls. Not so. The way Super Bowls are awarded promiscuously, the city would be in a long queue to get the game. Best, Don Bauder

Even if the games are played in domes, it would still be a logistical nightmare to host a superbowl in a city which is, say, in the midst of a criplling ice storm. People who get superbowl tix (often randoms who have good corporate connections) attend not only for the game, but for a nice vacation as well. Most likely a long weekend. If that weekend revolves around waiting for the power in your hotel to pop back on and praying not to slip on the icy sidewalks people might start to rethink Superbowls in cities with harsh winters.

Dryw Keltz: Super Bowls have already been played in winter climes. The league has been lucky that there have been no blizzards in those times. Best, Don Bauder

Perhaps you missed this past weekends playoff game in Minnesota, that of the sub zero temperatures, not even counting wind chill, which at times was measured at -23 degrees. Or perhaps last years January game in Green Bay, a high temperature of 5 degrees below zero with a wind chill of 20 below. The NFL currently has no predetermined temperature reading that would postpone a game. The NFL makes it's money from the TV broadcast and the site is determined years in advance and right now the rotation is about 10 years in between chances to host a Super Bowl. I would have to believe that the NFL is more than willing to take a chance that 3 years out, the weather will be ok.

danfogel: But climate change might throw the NFL's plans askew. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder The NFL typically awards a Super Bowl to new stadiums in warm-weather cities and new domed stadiums in cold-weather cities. New Jersey was an exception, one not likely to be repeated for quite sometime. I highly doubt climate change would even be considered. That is unless the warming climate causes the ocean to rise high enough to flood Miami, Tampa or Santa Clara.

danfogel: And those floods could affect cities on both coasts. This is not likely to happen soon, however. Still, even the NFL does long-range planning. Best, Don Bauder

Dryw Keltz: The NFL is rewarding Super Bowls to cities that build new stadiums. I have not heard talk of having a stadium in a city without a team, to be used for Super Bowls and the like. Since awarding of the Super Bowl is a bribe, in a sense, to taxpayers in cities, I would doubt that this will come about.

Yes, for several games this year, there seemed to be as many or more fans from out of town (Pittsburgh, Boston, etc.) as locals cheering the Chargers. My guess is that this came about because the Chargers were having -- or expected -- difficulties selling the tickets to the home market. Best, Don Bauder

If I may add some support...I've always felt that an NFL team owner would love to have a team in San Diego with the great climate, expensive real estate to develop (taking a pIay from the Moores playbook), location near an international border...and a city/county that can now find a way to finance a new stadium. There may not be a 10 year shelf life for this plan, though.

NothingSurprisesMeAnymore: The border propinquity is not an advantage to an NFL team. Tickets cost too much for most Mexicans. Besides, in Mexico, football is spelled futbol. They like soccer.

As to Moores: yes, he fleeced San Diego. He was granted all that land in the ballpark district at early 1990s prices, and sold it to developers for far, far more. It is estimated he raked in $700 million to $1 billion on this. That's apart from the $300 million of taxpayer funds he got for the ballpark. You can thank the city council for this massive windfall. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: We should be so lucky. Despite all the fleecing of the public in all those cities, and despite chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the league, alas, appears to have a long, prosperous future. Best, Don Bauder

RAIDERS BLAST OAKLAND. NOW ALL THREE TEAMS HOPING TO GET TO L.A. HAVE COMPLETELY ALIENATED THEIR HOME TOWNS. Now the Oakland Raiders have told the NFL that the future of the market for both the franchise and the league has been irrevocably damaged by Oakland and Alameda County politicians, according to the Orange County Register.

Earlier, Stan Kroenke, a native Missourian, blasted St. Louis, saying that having to keep his team in that city would be a financial disaster. In San Diego, Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani has denigrated the city and its leaders.

For the NFL, this may be no joke. In one of those cities (or in the state of Missouri), somebody might file a lawsuit against the league, claiming the NFL should lose its antitrust status. Some may go to Congress saying the same thing. The NFL wants to avoid that, but it is now wading in the muck, with people in three cities mad as hell. Best, Don Bauder

I feel like I am witnessing the new business order. Spanos, Fabiani, Goodell, et. al. are a bunch of greedy psychopaths. What else could they be labeled? They are not businessmen of lore, they are the greediest personas we have ever let into our lives. The "spin" from this horror show is nothing like I can ever remember. It makes me wonder why (including myself) we are so absorbed with it. It's disgusting and at the end of the day, who cares. It's just entertainment, it's not going to make a big difference once we get used to it. LA has not had a team in 20 years. How does the NFL know they will thrive in LA? The NFL feeds on free venues and now, thanks to people like Don Bauder, many cities now realize the NFL is a predator. I have observed the change in sentiment in the public, not only in San Diego, but in St. Louis and Oakland. The people know the NFL makes a lot of money and they can afford to build their own stages. Times have changed. Public subsidies are no more for the NFL.

I'm a sports fan. Now, not much as I used to be. I was also once a holder of Chargers season tickets. But the NFL and its bullshit have blurred the sport so much that I can't stand them anymore. I would like them to stay, it's fun to have the Chargers. But they are too expensive and demanding anymore. The NFL is desperate. They are playing more mind games and threats and drama than anything they could put on the field.

Ponzi: I so hope you are right that people around the nation finally see through the billionaire stadium scam. Alas, I can't say that yet. Best, Don Bauder

WHICH NEWSPAPER D'YA READ? The L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune are now saying that the consensus is building toward the Chargers joining Kroenke at his Inglewood stadium. The Orange County Register says the Chargers are staying loyal to their Carson plan with the Raiders.

But I have said all along that the Carson financing won't hold up. The NFL owners may see that. Then Dean Spanos and his family will have to go to Inglewood -- if Kroenke decides he wants a partner. He has said he does, but he could decide to go it alone for a year or two to test the market. That would be bad for the Chargers and Raiders, since they have already alienated their home towns.

Since the Carson financing plan is a loser, if the Chargers are going to move this year, it will be to Inglewood. But that is no sure thing. Maybe we will know in the next two days. Best, Don Bauder

If this report is correct, and it does ring true, it means Deano is showing some business acumen. A stadium such as Kroenke proposes for Inglewood would have massive debt service, and need for funds to ultimately pay off the principal of bonds issued. Such a palatial facility would be very expensive to maintain and operate. A tenant in that stadium would have to pay its share of all the aforementioned costs. No government to help out or be the backstop if the rent were set too low. No, such an operation would or will be the acid test of the inherent profitability--or lack of same--of a NFL franchise, the only one operating without a tax subsidy and having to stand on its own two feet.

So speaking of feet, Deano knows that the Chargers could not be profitable if the stadium rent were set to the real cost of playing in it, and now he has cold feet. It will be interesting to see if the fallout from all this acrimony aimed at the three cities that may, and I stress may, see their teams move away, actually begins a sea change in attitudes across the land toward pro sports teams of all types. The dynamite combination of lawsuits and legislation to take away the NFL privilege could begin to be felt.

Visduh: Yes, as noted here, the cost of the Inglewood facility is now estimated at $2.6 billion. The Spanos family is worth about $1.5 billion. Kroenke and his wife, combined, are worth about $11 billion. If the equity in the Inglewood stadium is split evenly, I doubt the Spanos family could afford it. Best, Don Bauder

Question: Will Kroenke go it alone if he can't get another team to share the stadium? Or has this always been predicated upon having two teams? He might hope to split the equity, but I'd betcha he won't relinquish control. There's no way that the NFL would approve all three applicants to move to LA. I still assume that if he really wants it, Kroenke will get the nod. I can't see the rival stadium proposal being viable, because that would require letting the Chargers and Raiders move, too.

The Carson proposal was a crock from the beginning.

Visduh: I agree that the Carson proposal was hooey from the beginning but the six-owner L.A. relocation committee has voted for it by 5 to 1, according to media reports. Now there are two proposals that will be voted upon: Chargers/Raiders in Carson or Rams/Chargers in Inglewood, according to media reports. Best, Don Bauder

Football is dead. If ya gotta have a spectator sport, try futbol.

Flapper: I don't believe in divine intervention, but if I did, I would pray that you are right: football is dead. Alas, I don't believe that. Best, Don Bauder

NFL COMMITTEE APPROVES CHARGERS/RAIDERS CARSON SITE. Today at the NFL owners' meeting in Houston, the six-owner Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities approved the Carson stadium site, put forward by the Chargers and the Raiders, over the Inglewood site proposed by Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams. Because of prior maneuvering, this was not unexpected.

The recommendation by the committee does not mean that the Carson site will be the eventual winner, cautioned ESPN.com. All 32 owners will vote, and it takes 24 to swing the decision. However, this has to be a blow to Kroenke and his Inglewood plans. Best, Don Bauder

PROPOSAL OF RAMS ALONE IN INGLEWOOD DROPPED FROM BALLOT. IT'S NOW EITHER CHARGERS/RAIDERS IN CARSON OR RAMS/CHARGERS IN INGLEWOOD. A proposal that the Rams would go to Inglewood alone has been dropped from the ballot, according to espn.com. So now there are two proposals to be voted on: Chargers/Raiders in Carson or Rams/Chargers in Inglewood. Best, Don Bauder

CHARGERS SAY THEY HAVE MORE THAN NINE VOTES NEEDED TO BLOCK KROENKE'S INGLEWOOD STADIUM PLAN. According to the Orange County Register, the Chargers are saying at the Houston NFL meeting that they have more than the nine votes needed to block Kroenke from getting enough votes to get approval for his proposed $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood. According to the newspapers, the Chargers believe they have 17 to 20 votes lined up on their side. That still is not enough to get approval of the Chargers/Raiders plan for a stadium in Carson. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder it was reported a few minutes ago that a vote has taken place and neither proposal received sufficient votes to pass. It was noted, though, that the Inglewood proposal received the most votes.

It has been reported that the Inglewood project was only 4 votes shy, 20-12. So much for Chargers having 17 to 20 votes lined up on their side. After the vote, the LA committee met with Spanos and Davis. There is a new proposal said to be on the table and being discussed, with a vote likely happening soon. Kind of makes it seem that one of them will be left standing when the music stops, but with maybe a little bone tossed to them by the NFL. If that be the case, I'd say Davis is the odd man out.

After all the maneuvering, back-room politicking, and strange alliances that were made, I'd have been very surprised that any proposal got the 24 votes. Now they go to work to corral a few more owners into approving Kroenke's proposal, which should not be hard to do, given his financial resources. Nobody ever said that hammering out an agreement would be simple, easy, or quick. But with 20 votes already in hand, the Kroenke proposal with modifications should end up going forward.

Visduh: As it turned out, yours was a most prescient observation. The final vote was 30-2 in favor of Inglewood/Kroenke. Follow the money. Best, Don Bauder

danfogel: Agreed. I think Oakland will be odd man out, too. But this entire exercise has been bizarre: reportage has been based on contradictory leaks. We may see something definitive tonight or tomorrow. Best, Don Bauder

danfogel: Yes, see my post at the top of the page. The vote was 20-12, according to reliable reports, in favor of Inglewood. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder the vote was 30-2 in favor of the Rams moving to Los Angeles for sure, possibly with the Chargers, who were given the option to move also, albeit as a tenant, not a co owner. They have the option to stay in San Diego for the time being, but have to come to terms by January of 2017.

Also, if the Chargers decline that option, the Raiders will have the option to relocate.

danfogel: The final vote was 30 to 2 in favor of Kroenke. But at one point media reported that Spanos had 17 or 20 votes. I think the media got snookered on that one. Best, Don Bauder

So the Over-Chargers are gonna hafta convince the SD suckers that they're not gonna Bolt in a year or two, and even if they stay 'till 2020, the suckers and other voters are gonna be taking a hard look at the Recharge deal. And by that time there will be a Revolt about a ReBolt and a lot of neglected streets to fix, especially if the suckers/voters reject a the HUGE bond issue that will be floated to cover the neglect of infrastructure (yes, the water and sewer systems are falling apart too).

Talk about a huge Spano to leap!

Flapper: I hope you are right that San Diegans get tired of being manipulated by billionaires and say, collectively, that the money should be spent on infrastructure. Best, Don Bauder

That's just a start. Even when they spend on infrastructure, they out-source as much as they can. As you whisper, "Follow the money."

Flapper: I don't whisper "Follow the money." I shout it. Best, Don Bauder

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