NFL Wire News

NFL meetings: The Los Angeles solution


PHOENIX — It’s been almost 21 years since pro football was played in Los Angeles, but team executives believe a solution is at hand and that NFL games will be played there in 2016.

Monday morning, as the annual NFL meetings opened in the upscale Arizona Biltmore resort, the league’s senior vice president, Eric Grubman, the point man for all things L.A., led the discussion to bring the owners up to date.

Prior to the meeting, Grubman told, “This will be the first time that I’ll have the opportunity to give specific answers. Up until now, I’ve had to walk a tight rope of giving a briefing without parting with any information that was confidential. No teams were out in the open. No sites were out in the open. Now we have a lot more to work with.”

Very much has been open since the calendar turned the page from 2014 to 2015. In early January, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke got the ball rolling with the announcement of his plan to build a stadium to go with a development that would include office space, retail and a 6,000-seat entertainment venue on the site of the former Hollywood Race Track in Inglewood.

Four days later, a St. Louis task force appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon unveiled plans for a stadium on the city’s riverfront designed to keep the Rams. In the ensuing 10 weeks, San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis revealed plans to share a stadium in Carson, Calif., where they would both play if their cities are unable to create a plan for new stadiums.

Clearly, the stakes are high and Grubman knows it, calling the situation “high tension.”

After Grubman’s presentation Monday, New York Giants owner John Mara, a member of the league’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, said, “The presentation was more informative than anything else. There were no opinions being expressed, just an informative session.”

Mara also said, when asked about teams playing there in 2016, “In my opinion, I think there will be a team, and possibly two, playing in L.A. somewhere. It all remains subject to the league approving that. But I’m confident that will happen at some point in the future.”

Davis was somewhat tight-lipped, but did say of the presentation, “It was fairly detailed, more so than we’ve heard before. It just updated everybody on what’s going on in the local markets and also the two areas in L.A. that are in play right now.”

As for the Carson site being viable, Davis said, “Absolutely. But I don’t want to get into talking about the plans right now. We’re talking about Oakland and we’ll see what we can do there.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is also on the committee with Mara, said, “I was sad 20 years ago when I came into the league and two teams moved out of the L.A. market. I don’t think it’s good that we’ve let a generation of fans, young kids, grow up without teams there. That’s not good for the NFL.

“I really believe within the next year we’ll have two teams in this market. We have good plans, but we also have a committee working with the different owners and we have some real good options. Now we’ll see what happens in the end game.”

In an interview with, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if the best solution is for the Raiders and Chargers to share a stadium in Los Angeles and have the Rams remain in St. Louis.

Goodell said, “Our first objective will be to make sure that those markets have had the chance to get something done; that they can get a stadium built to secure the long-term future of their franchise. San Diego has been working 14 years on a new stadium. Oakland is not in a new debate either, for the A’s or the Raiders. Same with St. Louis. These are long debates about what is the right solution for the community and what is best for the team. We’re looking to see if we can create those solutions locally. If we can’t, we obviously have to look at long-term solutions for those teams.”

There have been numerous stops and starts for Los Angeles since the Rams and Raiders left two months apart in 1995. Kraft was thus asked if now it feels more real because the stadium plans are being driven by the teams.

Kraft agreed, saying, “The teams that are all interested, the principals are involved and they’re doing something first class. I don’t think we could have a viable team in L.A. without a first-class venue and have something very special.

“I’m excited about it. I think L.A. should be a market where we play Super Bowls, where we have an NFL experience. We have a network out here. There’s a lot of things that can be done around it and allow the NFL to really be a showplace. Integrating everything, and doing it in a proper real estate development.”

As for St. Louis, Kraft concluded, “I think we have to be very careful and responsible to different markets who really step up and do what they want to do. And if they do I think we have a responsibility to make sure there’s a team in that market.

“From my point of view, if they come up with a plan that looks pretty good and is a strong financial package, we have an obligation to have a team in St. Louis.”

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