NFL to push to keep Chargers in San Diego with concern over second L.A. team
Financial incentives could be offered for the Chargers to stay put, but a Raiders move draws closer
Select NFL owners will meet in New York on Wednesday as part of the league's stadium and finance committees and are prepared to make a final pitch to get the Chargers to stay in San Diego, according to numerous league and ownership sources, with the crux of this meeting focused on the Raiders' desire to move to Las Vegas.
There are some grave concerns among owners and the league office about the potential of having two teams in Los Angeles -- the Chargers can exercise an option to move to L.A. next week, and sources said at this point they have no reason not to -- and any subsidy offered to Chargers owner Dean Spanos would be born of those economic fears more than anything else. And while the league's top executives expressed trepidation about Raiders owner Mark Davis's race to move to Nevada at the most recent owner's meeting, pointing out potential issues with the Las Vegas market, league sources anticipate the tone of Wednesday's meeting to be quite different.
The Rams have had a rough first season in Los Angeles and are already engaged in a coaching search, and the ratings in that market were not what some might have hoped for, as well. With both the Rams and Chargers rebuilding and searching for coaches, the timing is less than ideal for another team to join that market. However, sources said that any deal offered Spanos -- such as money to upgrade the stadium in San Diego and remain in that market for a few years until another referendum vote on a new stadium deal could be held -- would likely be less than optimal for the Chargers. Spanos has resisted leaving in the past and has his own concerns about the deal brokered with the Rams, one that would essentially make the Chargers a tenant to Rams owner Stan Kroenke at the stadium in construction scheduled to open in 2019, and there is sense among other owners that even a weak deal to stay in San Diego could carry the day.
Any measure would have to gain approval from the committee on Wednesday, but league sources said several of the owners in that group believe it is worthwhile to concoct some fiscal measure to induce staying in San Diego. Furthermore, sources said the Chargers have not requested any extension of their deadline or any fiscal inducements of any sort. League sources said there have been no overtures to the Chargers at this point, and the Chargers will have no representatives at Wednesday's meeting, as there is no Chargers measure formally on the agenda and Spanos is not a member of this committee. Spanos has until Monday to exercise his previously negotiated window to join Kroenke, and this year's ballot measure to build a new downtown stadium in San Diego did not come anywhere close to the required 66 percent threshold.
Chargers officials would not be surprised if the league did present some option for assistance in San Diego at this point, but have no knowledge of what it might entail and how potentially attractive it could be to ownership. Regardless, at this point I'd be very surprised if Spanos doesn't have something from the league to consider this weekend and he prepares to make perhaps the biggest decision of his long ownership tenure in the NFL.
As for the Raiders, Davis has made considerable progress with his partners about the potential stadium deal in Vegas, sources said. The NFL has been working closely with Oakland on a new stadium there, but it still lacks sufficient progress and time appears to be running out, despite many owners and NFL honchos preferring the Bay Area to the Vegas Strip.
No vote of any sort will take place for the Raiders' official move until the spring, though Davis remains focused on filing official relocation papers as soon as possible. However, if Wednesday's meeting goes as expected, this influential and powerful committee will further pave the way for that vote going in Davis' favor when it is held, which could be as soon as the March spring meeting in Arizona.
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