With the Rams playing what could be their final game in St. Louis, it makes sense to revisit the NFL’s options for Los Angeles.
More and more owners, both on and off the record, are saying that the L.A. situation will end at the upcoming special meeting of January 12 and 13. “It has to,” one source with knowledge of the dynamics told PFT.
So how could it all play out? PFT looked at the options on December 6, and it now makes sense to consider them again, with revisions and additions.
1. Rams only in Inglewood. With St. Louis making progress toward the financing of a new stadium and the NFL reportedly kicking in another $100 million to address a public-money funding gap, the Rams may not be able to secure the 24 votes necessary to move — especially with Texans owner Bob McNair joining Panthers owner Jerry Richardson as opponents of a Rams relocation to L.A. Both are members of the league’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities.
2. Chargers and Raiders in Carson. The two AFC West rivals have been pushing hard for this outcome, which would make them competitors in the standings and at the box office. Disney CEO Bob Iger, who will formally join the Carson stadium effort if/when it’s approved, already is making phone calls to owners lobbying for the joint venture. Getting 24 votes to move both teams could be a challenge, primarily since plenty of owners seem to be reluctant to help Raiders owner Mark Davis.
3. Chargers only in Carson. While it would require a funding mechanism that would make up for the revenue not generated by playing 10 Raiders game there, some think that the league could decide to give the Chargers the green light to build in Carson, with only the Chargers approved to play there for the next few years, if not longer. There continues to be a strong sense in league circles that, if a mere 17-vote simple majority carried the day, the owners would vote to put the Chargers — and only the Chargers — in Carson.
4. Rams and Chargers/Raiders in Inglewood. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has offered to partner with either of the two teams that have partnered for a Carson stadium. To date, both the Chargers and Raiders have said they aren’t interested in breaking up their unlikely marriage. It’s nevertheless possible that, if one of the two gets a stadium in its current city, it would have no qualms about the other shacking up with Kroenke. (It’s also possible, although very unlikely, that the Raiders would move in to Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.)
5. Chargers and Rams in Carson. This one would unfold with the Chargers going first and the Rams coming later, if they ultimately can’t work out an acceptable stadium deal to stay in St. Louis. While Kroenke wants to build in Inglewood, a green light for Carson will mean that if the Rams are going to return to L.A. with league approval, it’ll happen only as a partner with the Chargers.
6. Raiders only in Carson. Still not happening.
7. Raiders and Chargers in Carson, Rams in Inglewood. After thinking about this possibility some more, it could indeed happen. But it would require the Rams to ignore the vote authorizing Raiders/Chargers in Carson and to move without league approval, risking litigation from the NFL and asserting in response that the NFL’s relocation rules violate federal antitrust laws.
8. Chargers in Inglewood. It’s a very remote possibility, which would require Dean Spanos to buy the Inglewood site from Kroenke, or it would hinge on Kroenke and Spanos swapping franchises, with Kroenke then moving the Chargers to Inglewood and Spanos keeping the Rams in St. Louis. Unlike the Rams-Colts straight-up franchise trade of 1972, this one probably would require Kroenke to pay Spanos a premium. Even then, Spanos may have zero interest in owning the Rams or any other team in St. Louis. Still, once it’s time for the owners to come up with a solution, anything is possible.
Multiple league sources have expressed a strong belief that, regardless of how the L.A. situation specifically plays out, it will end with the Chargers moving to L.A. Still, there are plenty of moving parts, and every potential option should be regarded as being on the table as the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders play a high-stakes game of poker, chess, checkers, chicken, and musical chairs.