EARTH CITY, Mo. -- While the two proposed Los Angeles-area stadiums look to be well ahead of the curve in their potential of becoming reality, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear Wednesday in San Francisco that of the three home markets looking to keep their teams, St. Louis is the furthest along in its pursuit of a stadium.
With each passing week, the St. Louis stadium task force has checked off box after box and though there is still some significant work to do, namely in securing the public piece of the financing, San Diego and Oakland don't appear to be anywhere close to St. Louis when it comes to putting together an actionable plan. San Diego just presented a financing plan that doesn't look agreeable for the Chargers and Oakland has yet to do as much as put a proposal together.
"We heard directly from St. Louis a couple of weeks ago," Goodell said. "It’s one of the things that we’re evaluating and we’re working on. I don’t know if we’ve come to a conclusion on that to date, but there is tremendous progress going on there. We’re going to make sure we give it full evaluation and full consideration and we’ll get back directly to them if we feel that there are any issues that need to be addressed."
NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman offered similar praise for the efforts going on in St. Louis, and it's worth noting that both Grubman and Goodell have longstanding relationships with St. Louis task force leader Dave Peacock.
Grubman has consistently referred to the difficulties in getting a stadium built, using the analogy of a football team trying to get across the goal line. What he means by that is developing an "actionable" plan. In other words, pretty pictures and random numbers for financing won't suffice. To reach that level, a stadium proposal must be able to show that financing is in place, land agreements are in place and all of the other details are finalized.
And that still doesn't account for the possibility that the ball might cross the goal line and Rams owner Stan Kroenke could throw a flag to call it back by simply saying no to paying the private-financing piece of the puzzle.
In St. Louis' case, that still leaves work to be done on finalizing financing, though the task force remains confident it can be done by the fall. Perhaps that will be expedited, though, as the league ponders shortening and moving up the timeline to file for relocation. The land doesn't look like it will be much of a problem as the group already has option agreements in place for nearly two thirds of the proposed land.
Meanwhile, Kroenke's project in Inglewood appears to be well down the tracks and seems to simply be waiting for NFL approval. that begs the question of whether it's pretty much a sure thing that the NFL will be returning to Los Angeles.
"There has been significant progress, but I don’t think it’s inevitable," Goodell said. "I think there is certainly momentum; there are certainly opportunities. I can’t remember the last time we had two facilities that are actually entitled and are being developed. That’s a very positive development, and in fact, there are actually even two more sites that have been entitled. But the two that we’re focusing on are obviously the Carson site and the Inglewood site. I think those are positive developments, but a lot more work has to be done."