Ah, yes, the "hurry up and wait" feeling we’ve become accustomed to when dealing with the NFL moving to LA.
The latest development is out of San Diego as the Chargers sent their stadium proposal to the ballot in hopes of gathering enough support to increase a hotel tax and raise money to build a new downtown stadium. It failed. Badly.
The measure needed 67% to pass. They earned about 43%.
So what does this mean?
Chargers ownership says no decision will be made this season. But they must decide whether to stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles and share the stadium with the Rams by January 15th, 2017. That’s a hard deadline.
If they choose to stay in San Diego, they have a variety of options and potential locations to get a stadium built and some funding options as well, although it doesn’t look like much public money will be available, but again, there are options for them in San Diego.
Not really the case in Oakland for the Raiders. If the Chargers stay in San Diego, the Raiders can choose to move to LA, as soon as next year. While they have a loosely understood plan to potentially move to Las Vegas, there are still many unanswered questions about that concept and the Raiders would need the NFL owners to approve that move. Their move to LA has already been approved, it just hinges on the Chargers staying put.
In reality, the Raiders’ potential move to Las Vegas might be a mirage.
After the latest round of NFL owners meetings in Houston, there seemed to be growing support for the team’s move to Las Vegas. According to sources close to the team I’ve spoken to, they believe the city and the franchise are a perfect fit and the $750 million dollars of public money that state legislators approved is a key factor in accelerating the potential move.
Further media reports outline the growing support for the franchise’s move according to multiple NFL owners willing to put their names on those reports and sources close to Raiders owner Mark Davis reportedly say the team is looking to file relocation papers in January.
The concept of the Las Vegas Raiders is a good one. The city is clearly committed to the team. Lawmakers are willing to shove unpopular legislation through in the 13th hour to procure public funding, at the risk of their long-term political careers should the deal go sideways. The city will get an NHL franchise in the 2017-18 season, that being the first of the 4 major sports leagues to jump into what’s long been perceived as murky waters. So should ALL the hurdles be cleared by say, 2020, the NFL will have a few years of the NHL’s bumps and bruises to learn from.
But the actual reality of the Las Vegas Raiders is a very, very tenuous one.
First: The Funding.
There’s the $750 million in public money. While many qualified economics professors have outlined the steep costs resting on taxpayers shoulders returning little financial dividends, the latest push is to look beyond financial impact and see things like quality of life and civic pride. I don’t buy that. I do not believe the taxpayers should fund a stadium that will largely add to the pocket book of a only a few, but Nevada lawmakers do, so congrats to Mark Davis on convincing lawmakers to take that plunge with you. This chunk of money is the easiest to understand where it’s coming from and what it costs to procure it.
There’s the $650 million from casino magnate Sandy Alderson. How this money is offered, what Alderson gets in return and those details are very murky. Davis doesn’t have enough ownership of the team to be able to sell AND Alderson, because of his ties to gambling may not even be able to buy. So there are innumerable considerations that go into exactly how the Alderson would be compensated for throwing in this dough. Oh, and then there’s these reports from late October that he’s unhappy with the negotiations and could "walk away."
After the constant shifting, posturing and planning for many different venues in Los Angeles, we learned a few things, but apparently people aren’t willing to apply those lessons to this instance. The first: ALWAYS follow the money.
Truth is, there isn’t quite enough that’s REAL (most of it is supposed) to get a stadium built in Las Vegas. AND THEN there’s the approval of 24 of the league’s owners to allow the Raiders to move to Vegas. While the aforementioned mood of the owners was positive, we all know how political these matters are when they’re in discussion and the posturing required in the chess game of business.
Secondly: The path of least resistance is usually the one to garner the most support.
The owners already approved either the Chargers or Raiders moving to LA to share the stadium with the Rams. If the Chargers decide to stay put, it would make more sense for the Raiders to move to LA and enjoy MASSIVE success in the nation’s #2 market with a winning team and already established fan base.
The BEST CASE SCENARIO for Southern California, is to have the Chargers in San Diego with a new stadium and the Raiders in LA. This means the region will have 2 Super Bowl-ready venues and that will help bring national level-collegiate games as well as the boom of multiple Super Bowls.
And this might be the best possible time for the Raiders to move to a win-or-go-home LA market. They already have a well-established, passionate fan base in the market and at 7-2, the enthusiasm hasn’t been this high in more than a decade.
If the team announced they’ll be moving to LA after it’s first playoff appearance in 14 years, the waiting list for season tickets will be longer than a SeaBass field goal.