It’s becoming easier and easier to read the L.A. tea leaves. For now, though, the leaves reveal only who’s leaving their current home. The leaves don’t say where they are leaving for.
The effort by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to pull apart the proposed canine/feline cohabitation by the Raiders and Chargers and to hot weld the Chargers to the Rams quickly has emerged as the best path to 24 owner votes regarding the teams that will land in Los Angeles. But now the question becomes whether the two teams will live in Inglewood or in Carson.
As noted earlier, the Chargers claim to have “zero interest” in Inglewood, but owner Dean Spanos already has said that he’ll abide by whatever the owners decide. This inherently contradictory position gives the Chargers perfect cover to jilt the Raiders — especially since it’s now clear that the Raiders will emerge from this dance with enough money to build their own dance hall, somewhere. If 24 owners tell the Chargers that, if they want to move to L.A., they’ll be moving to Inglewood, it’s hard to imagine the Chargers saying, “No thanks. We’ll stay in a dilapidated stadium in a city that doesn’t really want to help us build a new one.”
This doesn’t mean the Chargers won’t try to leverage the same sentiment that may have kept Rams owner Stan Kroenke out of L.A. from keeping him from getting his way as to the preferred location of a stadium. Disney CEO Bob Iger will be attending Tuesday’s ownership meeting with the primary objective of selling the Carson project, and trashing the Inglewood proposal.
Sure, he’ll couch the thing in terms of the Raiders and Chargers, but the focal point now is Carson vs. Inglewood. And before the Chargers go along with Inglewood, they’ll try to get along with Carson, relying on Iger to persuade the owners that Carson is the much better location.
Looming over the back-and-forth is the possibility (small as it may be) that Kroenke will say, “Screw it. I’m building my stadium in Inglewood. Try and stop me.” In theory, that could result in both stadiums being built, with Carson officially sanctioned by the league and Inglewood as Kroenke’s rogue project.
This remains highly unlikely. Still, fears of Kroenke defying the NFL and moving to L.A. without approval have helped create momentum for both the Chargers and Rams returning to Los Angeles. Concern that he’ll ultimately do what he wants could move the needle toward Inglewood, too.