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NFL brings owners up to speed

PHOENIX -- As momentum builds toward an NFL return to Los Angeles, Eric Grubman, the league's point man on relocation, addressed the assembled owners on what's happening in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego on Monday morning.


"The idea for this particular session was to make sure they were comfortable and knew what has gone on so far, that they knew the involvement of the Los Angeles committee," Grubman said. "And they knew all the different work streams that the league and the clubs are undertaking to look at Los Angeles as well as to look at the three markets -- I call them home markets -- in San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis."


Grubman said Monday's presentation is the only one on the agenda for this week's owners meetings but that the Los Angeles subject likely will be revisited at May's owners meetings in San Francisco.


Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis called Grubman's presentation more detailed than any the owners had heard before. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he didn't expect any "major announcements" on the topic at this week's meetings.



But since the owners last met in December, there have been plenty of developments not only on the two sites in Los Angeles but in each market. So Grubman's goal was to get everybody up to speed so that when a decision has to be made, it can be done in relatively short order.


"We gave people the opportunity to ask questions, and they can still ask questions," Grubman said. "And they also now understand how thoroughly briefed our Los Angeles committee is so they can ask their fellow owners questions because those guys are up to speed and briefed. We wanted to give them comfort that the work was being done and there's a process that's going to lead to presentation of the analysis and ultimately voting. That's a really important step."


It's important because the general consensus around these owners meetings is that the NFL will be back in Los Angeles one way or another as soon as 2016.


New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the owners who serves on the Los Angeles relocation committee, made it clear where he stands on the matter.


"I really believe within the next year, we'll have two teams in this [L.A.] market," Kraft said. "I think there are good plans. We have a little committee that's working with the different owners and we have some real good options. Now we'll see what happens in the end game."


As it stands, the league has two Los Angeles proposals on the table.


The Chargers and Raiders proposed in February building a $1.7 billion NFL stadium in Carson. Last week, a signature-gathering effort in Carson financed by the two teams resulted in 14,836 signatures gathered -- about twice as many needed to qualify the initiative for public vote or consideration by the city council.


Now, the signatures go to election officials for verification, where they have 30 business days to certify the signatures. That process likely will be completed sooner than that. Once the signatures are verified, the initiative will be presented to the city council. The council can either adopt the initiative or call an election to present the initiative to voters.


The Chargers and Raiders believe they can have a fully entitled site ready to build in Carson by the end of May.


The Inglewood stadium project, spearheaded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, has been in motion since January. The appropriate parties in Inglewood have already approved that plan, although the NFL hasn't given similar approval and no vote on relocation for any team is expected this week.



Unlike the Carson project, Kroenke has never explicitly declared intent to move the Rams and at least one owner has not even discussed the project with him.


"I haven't talked to Stan," Irsay said. "He has not approached me. I don't know if he's talked in depth with the commissioner or other owners. It's still like I said a wait-and-see thing. I know people are looking forward to hearing some concrete things about L.A. since it's been 20 years since we've been there. But it still isn't anything that I believe, at this meeting, is going to be a significant announcement."


Meanwhile in San Diego, a mayor-appointed citizens stadium advisory group recently selected the Mission Valley site where Qualcomm Stadium sits as the location for a new stadium. The group now is working on a finance plan for a new stadium, with a projected price tag between $750 million and $1.5 billion.


The group is committed to have its recommendation to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer by a May 20 deadline.


The Oakland city council voted unanimously to add Alameda County to the joint agreement the city signed with the New City Development. The development's goal is to finance two new stadiums at the proposed Coliseum City complex in Oakland. It would house new stadiums for both the Raiders and Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics.


The proposal is in the early stages, but the agreement between the city and county is a solid step toward keeping the Raiders happy in Oakland.


The St. Louis stadium proposal also was part of Monday's discussion. While the task force headed by St. Louis businessmen Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz was not in attendance, the group used its Twitter account to express confidence its proposal would be seen and heard in Arizona.


Peacock, Blitz and the consultants they've hired in recent weeks have been meticulously working to make progress but still face the most important hurdle of financing the project. Last week, the Missouri Senate passed a measure intended to stop Missouri Governor Jay Nixon from extending or issuing bonds for a new stadium without the approval of the legislature or the public. That bill now heads to the full chamber for further consideration.


The St. Louis proposal also asks for Kroenke or a team owner to chip in up to an additional $250 million, plus another $200 million from the NFL in the form of the league's G4 loan.


Asked Monday what would happen to Los Angeles if Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis got deals done in their home markets, Kraft made it clear he doesn't believe that's going to happen and that at least one team would be in Los Angeles in 2016.


But Kraft also wanted it known that due diligence will be given to the markets that do put a real plan together.


"I think we have to be very careful and responsible to different markets who really step up and do what they want to do," Kraft said. "And if they do, I think we have a responsibility to make sure there's a team in that market."







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