NFL poised for L.A. move after 20 years of hard bargaining with cities

Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:03pm EST
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By Robin Respaut

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - With resistance mounting to public financing of sport stadiums, the National Football League this week aims to follow through on two decades of threats to relocate franchises to Los Angeles.

League approval - expected in an owners vote soon - would send a blunt message to mid-sized cities wanting a team: $400 million won’t cut it.

That’s what St. Louis offered as its share of a new stadium for the Rams, only to be dismissed by the league and team owner Stan Kroenke. The Chargers shunned San Diego’s proposed $350 million.

Both teams, along with the Oakland Raiders, have applied for relocation to L.A. An NFL committee recommended a proposal for a stadium in Carson that is supported by the Chargers and Raiders, the league said Tuesday.

But the issue still requires approval of at least 24 of the 32 owners in a final vote. News reports indicate different owners are lobbying for various scenarios, including the Rams and Chargers playing together in either the Carson stadium or an Inglewood venue proposed by the Rams.

Los Angeles, because of its standing as one of the nation's largest media markets, is among only a handful of cities able to draw the interest of teams without big subsidies.

But the expected vote of owners, meeting this week in Houston, could illustrate the league’s determination to retain the upper hand with smaller cities in future negotiations for subsidized stadiums that now regularly cost more than $1 billion.

The last of many teams to flirt with a move to Los Angeles - the Vikings - used the leverage to extract $500 million from Minnesota taxpayers in 2012. The league appears determined to hold that line, said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College sports economist.   Continued...

Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Spectators hold signs reading "Stay in Oakland" and "Stay in San Diego" in reference to the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders proposed move to Los Angeles during an NFL football game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports