Anyone who believed NFL relocation back to Southern California would be put on the fast track by the league probably doesn’t understand the process that comes with actually uprooting a team from its home market.
While it’s still likely we will see a team in Los Angeles in 2016, this report by Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times will likely put an end to any league-wide conversation until at least late in the 2015 calendar year.
According to NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league isn’t planning on a vote regarding the two stadium plans currently taking hold in Southern California any time soon.
We’re not planning for a vote in May or any time soon,” Grubman said. “We have a process. It’s deliberate. There are steps that need to be taken, and I think that’s much more likely to be later in this calendar year at the soonest.”
Grubman, who is the league’s “point man” on L.A., did go on to indicate that there has been a lot of progress made regarding relocation.
However, the NFL itself has a rather drawn-out process when taking on relocation. It’s also highly skeptical of supporting a plan prior to the end of the 2015 regular season. That’s only magnified by the St. Louis Rams stake in the Inglewood plan. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed a stadium plan at the Hollywood Park location—a plan that was approved by the Inglewood City Council earlier this year. Any real sign that the Rams will be playing in L.A. in 2016 would have a major impact on its local market of St. Louis this upcoming season.
In addition to the Rams’ plan, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are teaming up with a plan to build a two-team stadium in Carson, California. Both markets would be impacted by what could be called a lame duck season.
Grubman went on to indicate that the league will not vote on which plan it supports until financing deals are complete and and a temporary location for a team is set. Considering the Inglewood plan is much further along in the process than Carson, this could tell us a story about the league’s opinion on both plans. Then again, the NFL may just want to get all of its ducks in a row before ultimately deciding on what plan to support.
As of right now, the Inglewood location has the necessary funds to get started with construction on a new venue—construction that is expected to start later this year. As Farmer reported, Carson may very well have similar funding in the coming weeks.
The interesting dynamic here is that Inglewood’s City Council approved construction of a venue regardless of whether the league supports its plan. And while Kroenke is involved in Inglewood a great deal, it could potentially move forward without the Rams.
Regardless, the league’s decision to take this process slowly makes some sense in that it needs to make sure both plans are viable before moving along in the process. Based on where we are at in Carson and Inglewood, it’s highly likely a vote will take place by January. If so, we will then know who will be playing in L.A. in 2016 by then.
Photo: USA Today Sports