This is the time of year where you’re not entirely sure where an NFL franchise or two is gonna play this year. No matter how many times it happens, it’s such a weird phenomenon that franchises with decades of roots in their cities just pack up and move because publicly funded stadium goodies are sweeter somewhere else. But that’s the world we live in, and that’s what wrangling over the Chargers and Raiders is happening now.
The latest development is that the Chargers have signed a lease for office space and a training facility in greater Los Angeles. Of course, this lease has an out clause if the Spanos family — whose business acumen and football incompetence my colleague Ryan Phillips has gone over exhaustively — opts not to be Stan Kroenke’s tenants.
And the Chargers by all logical conclusions should figure out any and every way to avoid that. Los Angeles has already waned in its enthusiasm for the Rams, who find themselves in the position of needing to land a white whale of a coach in order to have any hope of moving gobs of luxury suites and PSLs to see their mediocre football team. If the Chargers double the inventory of these, the market will be totally flooded and it will be a disaster.
Stan Kroenke surely knows this, and if he’s going to abide by it you can guarantee it will be on terms where the Chargers have to pay out their ass to then be treated like Harry Potter when he was living under the stairs. All real and perceived signals that Spanos and the Chargers are sending that this is something they would want are transparently full of crap, but San Diego has what amounts to zero interest in keeping them there, so what are they gonna do?
If I were running the Chargers, I’d try to influence a solution where the Raiders stay in Oakland and the Chargers head to the shiny to-be-constructed megaplex that Sheldon Adelson is gonna get built in Las Vegas. The Chargers can rebrand or not. Whatever. Who really cares. But, it would be a slam dunk for them to be the only game in town in Vegas where all of the city’s power brokers want the NFL to happen.
The Raiders would obviously be the wild card in this scenario. Mark Davis has laid all of the groundwork for an NFL franchise to land there. Why would he let Dean Spanos swoop in?
Oakland has not as of yet committed to providing any public funding for a new stadium, but there was a proposal in late November that essentially amounted to private investment (from a group led by Ronnie Lott) in a conglomeration project of a new stadium, housing, and retail. Reading between the lines, it seems like there are various public subsidies that wouldn’t cost taxpayers new money. Presumably, this would amount to dilution in the percentage of the franchise Mark Davis owns, but seek to make it up to him by attaching other business opportunities from which he can profit.
Without seeing all of the numbers, it’s impossible to know if this is more palatable than whatever Sheldon Adelson is offering him, but this is almost certainly a better deal for the Raiders than anything the Chargers could extract from San Diego.
The NFL at-large would be better off in this circumstance. Fans in Oakland are a lot more passionate in aggregate than the ones in San Diego. Even as public funding is an issue, it is a market that the league shouldn’t want to relinquish.
If the Chargers do follow through on their dumb threat to move to Los Angeles, I’d be willing to bet a lot of money they move again within 15 years.