As the Chargers flirt with the possibility of moving to Los Angeles and the Raiders flirt with the probability of moving to Las Vegas, the future geographic locations of the two teams will quickly become, as one source with knowledge of the dynamics recently told PFT, a “game of four-dimensional chess.”
The Chargers have the more immediate deadline, given their ability through January 15 to strike a deal with the Rams to share space in Inglewood. Previously, Commissioner Roger Goodell was believed to be “fixated” on keeping the Chargers in San Diego. In recent weeks, however, there’s a sense his stance is softening.
His stance may be softening due to the realities of the situation. With no public money available in San Diego and no chance of even trying to change that until the elections of 2018 or 2020, the Chargers will be spinning their wheels if they stay put.
The Chargers also will likely lose money if they don’t move. In 2015, the uncertainty over a potential relocation helped the team have its best year ever in local revenue, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The renewed embrace of the team came from the uncertainty regarding a move. In 2016, the numbers are down — and the team expects the trend to continue if the franchise adopts year-to-year status in San Diego.
The possibility floated here last week of Rams owner Stan Kroenke kicking in cash to keep the Chargers out of L.A. and to help them build a new stadium in San Diego ultimately isn’t practical, for two reasons. First, it would take about $500 million to bridge the gap between the contribution from the Chargers and the NFL and the full stadium costs. Second, if the Chargers decide to stay in San Diego, the Raiders then would acquire the right to go to Los Angeles.
Yes, Raiders owner Mark Davis wants to move to Las Vegas. But, as one source explained it, the Los Angeles deal actually would be better for the Raiders than the Las Vegas deal. It also would potentially make the Raiders the prime draw in L.A., relegating the Rams to red-headed stepchild status.
These dynamics make it more likely the Chargers will move to L.A. As one source explained it, Kroenke has offered a fair deal to the Chargers. While the upside from local revenues are limited, the Chargers also aren’t required to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to build their own stadium, along with assuming the risks of cost overruns. Coupled with the increased value of the franchise after the move, an L.A. relocation makes a lot of sense.
So if the Chargers go to L.A., the Raiders will be left with staying in Oakland or moving to Las Vegas. Oakland won’t be a viable option unless and until there’s a real proposal that doesn’t entail Davis selling any of the team. Even then, his mind seems to be firmly made up — and it won’t be easy to change it at this point.
However it plays out, it’s all going to play out soon, with a seismic shift potentially coming to California’s NFL teams very, very soon.