Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Chargers launched a three-week round-robin of franchises that may move to L.A. This week, it’s Rams-Chargers; next week, it’s Raiders-Rams.
Off the field, this trio of teams are widely believed to be jockeying for position in the market that has transformed in recent weeks from luxury to necessity.
“Los Angeles is a great option,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said Sunday, via U-T San Diego. “We loved it when we were down here.”
But if the Raiders want to return to L.A., they may have to fend off their AFC West rivals, who have been trying for more than a decade to build a new stadium in the city just down the road from the place where the Chargers spent their first AFL season — with a young Al Davis as an employee of the club.
“We’re looking into all our possibilities, all our options,” owner Dean Spanos said, via U-T San Diego.
Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today recently looked at the game of musical chairs being played out between the Raiders, Chargers, and Rams. In the end, one may be stuck in its current market.
“I’d like to see two franchises in L.A.,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told USA Today. “I think within the next year or two we can see something real with L.A. At least one team.”
That’s a sentiment that has been gaining momentum throughout the last several weeks, starting with a report that the NFL currently envisions one or two teams moving to L.A. within the next one or two years. In St. Louis, the sentiment has gotten so strong that native son Joe Buck of FOX had some not-so-sentimental things to say about Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
“I’ve heard from people in the league that I respect, who have power within the league, that it’s just a matter of time. That Stan Kroenke’s plan is to go to [Los Angeles],” Buck recently said on FOX 2 in St. Louis, via insidestl.com by way of The Big Lead. (It’s like scoring a triple play to give proper credit at times.) “I’m really disappointed in Stan Kroenke. I don’t know how you’re an NFL owner in a city like this with the kind of sports fans we have here and you’re as invisible as this man has been. I think any smart person steps back and says, ‘Well he’s keeping his options open.’ Otherwise at some point you step out front, hoping you’re going to get support from fans here and say, ‘We’re going to do our darnedest to keep the Rams in St. Louis.’
“That’s never been said, he’s never seen, he’s not around town. I think clearly his objective as a shrewd businessman is to cash in in L.A., whatever that’s going to cost him. A lot has to happen for a franchise to move. It would be crushing to me if we lost an NFL franchise for a second time. This city’s too good for that. It’s not a reflection on the city or the fans. In this case I think it’s a reflection of the ownership that really is not invested in keeping the team here.”
It’s also a reflection on the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission’s decision not to provide the Rams with the type of stadium upgrades that would have kept the Rams from abandoning the lease, 20 years after the team was lured there with a promise that, after 20 years, the Rams would have a stadium among the top 25 percent of all NFL stadiums.
That failure has given the Rams an opening. The Raiders and Chargers have openings, too. For one of those three teams, the opening will disappear when the other two take up residence in the city where all three of them once were located.