Stan Kroenke's moves make Los Angeles a real possibility

Stan Kroenke jump started discussion of an NFL team moving to Los Angeles with the purchase of 60 acres in Inglewood. Oscar W. Gabriel/AP IMAGES

PHOENIX -- If deadlines spur action, perhaps "Deadline" should be St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke's nickname.

Of the many topics being discussed at this week's owners meetings, the NFL's potential return to Los Angeles ranks high on the list, perhaps even at the top. It was bound to be a subject that came up again sooner or later but in the past two decades it's never been as real as it is now.

That's why league executive Eric Grubman, the man in charge of the dual -- if not competing -- tasks of relocation and market retention, offered a thorough presentation to the owners on Monday morning.

In the presentation, Grubman discussed what's happening with the two potential Los Angeles sites as well as the home markets of the three teams pondering a move in St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego. The goal of the presentation was to make sure everyone is up to speed because chances are, something real will take place before the 2016 season, at the latest.

"I don't think we want to hurry it just to hurry it but I do think once clubs have declared their interest in developing a stadium in Los Angeles and haven't foreclosed their home markets, it's better to get to that answer sooner than later so that people at least know what to work on," Grubman said. "I would like to think that we have got a good shot at making the decision in time for people to know in the 2016 season where they are playing."

So why now? The answer is simple: Kroenke. Unlike failed attempts at bringing the league back to the City of Angels, Kroenke provides the holy trinity needed to make it happen: the land, the money and the team.

It was Kroenke's purchase of a 60-acre tract of land in Inglewood, California in January of 2014 that started the ball rolling. The announcement in January of this year that he's partnered with Stockbridge Capital group to build the City of Champions project on that site only made it all the more real.

Soon after, St. Louis announced a plan of its own in an effort to keep the Rams. At February's scouting combine, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders announced a plan to team up on a stadium project in Carson, California. Oakland and San Diego have also jumped into the fray in efforts to keep their respective teams.

All of that movement spun from Kroenke, who, to paraphrase Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, is all about that action.

In the process, Kroenke has managed to position himself at the front of one of the most ambitious and innovative stadium projects in North American sports history.

Kroenke's Inglewood project isn't just about trying to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles but offers much more, which is yet another reason that these discussions have moved to the forefront.

"I think what's happened is, I don't think we should have a team or teams in L.A. if we don't have a great venue," New England owner Robert Kraft said. "There's so many choices in L.A. and coming back into the market, I really believe it's going to be really first class.

"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 and integrating everything and doing it in a proper real estate development."

And though Kroenke's continued silence on this and pretty much every other topic can be frustrating, he's also left himself with a certain amount of plausible deniability.

While never explicitly stating that he wants to move the Rams, Kroenke has spurred movement in his current city and offered the NFL hope of landing new stadiums for all of the teams in need of one.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Monday that Kroenke has never approached him to discuss Los Angeles and acknowledged that behind closed doors Kroenke isn't making his intentions clear as it pertains to a move.

In doing so, Kroenke is maintaining his position as the lead domino ready to tip over the rest however he best sees fit.

"Stan Kroenke has done a very good job in this business and in other businesses of creating options for himself while not foreclosing something else that may be attractive to him," Grubman said. "It's not different here. He's creating options in the Los Angeles market and he has not foreclosed the St. Louis market and so to the extent that he hasn't turned all his cards over that may be because Stan hasn't made all the decisions. And he doesn't have to yet. That's a great place to be."