ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The NFL owners are meeting in Houston Tuesday and Wednesday to presumably decide upon the fate of up to three of their teams who want to relocate to the Los Angeles area for the 2016 season -- the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams.
All three have L.A. roots, with the Rams calling it home from 1946 through 1994, the Chargers’ inaugural AFL season coming there in 1960 and the Raiders calling Los Angeles home from 1982 through 1994.
You have questions about the impending proceedings that could return a team to the L.A. area for the first time since the Raiders and Rams bolted following the 1994 season. We’ve got answers …
What, exactly, is being voted upon and what is expected to happen?
What, have you been living under a silver and black rock the past few years? Basically, the Raiders are teaming with the Chargers to build a $1.7 billion stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, while the Rams are set on building their own $1.86 billion complex in Inglewood at Hollywood Park. Yes, where the late Al Davis had designs on building his own yard in 1994 before, as he claimed, the NFL wanted him to take in a second tenant. Angered, Davis pulled up stakes and returned to Oakland for the 1995 season. NFL owners will vote on which of the two projects to go forward with, and reports have surfaced that the league would prefer the Chargers to leave the Raiders in the lurch and join the Rams in Inglewood. It will take 24 votes from the 32 owners to win approval.
If the Raiders are denied Los Angeles, does that mean they are in Oakland to stay?
Not necessarily. Because even as reports have surfaced that the NFL would “take care” of the Raiders with a golden parachute in the form of more loan money to build their own stadium in Oakland, their impasse with the city of Oakland does not change. Look, both the Raiders and the NFL have said Oakland is not a viable market, so don’t let Monday night’s leaking of the Raiders' memo criticizing the city mean they are absolutely, positively done in Oakland. It’s business; not personal. Much the same as an athlete going through arbitration, when he hears his employer highlight his deficiencies.
There still is no public money from the city of Oakland promised for a new stadium, the "free" acreage for the Raiders to develop remains a relatively scant swath of land and, oh yeah, MLB’s Athletics still are in the outdated Coliseum. So while it makes sense that the Raiders re-up for at least one more season in the Coliseum, there still would be much work to do. And rumors persist that the Raiders still could move as they’ve been linked to San Antonio (hard to imagine Jerry Jones allowing a third team into Texas) and Portland, Oregon. And if you think they could take the place of the Rams or Chargers in St. Louis or San Diego, the NFL also has declared those two cities not viable for an NFL team. So unless or until the Raiders break ground on an Oakland stadium -- they’ve also been linked to sites in nearby Concord, Dublin and Vallejo -- nothing about a permanent East Bay home is settled.
But what if the Raiders do get approval to return to Los Angeles?
Then it’s warp speed ahead to find a temporary home while the Carson complex is being built -- sources have indicated they would want to play the 2016 season somewhere in Los Angeles, rather than stay in Oakland until their new home is built, and some of the venues mentioned as potential homes include their old yard at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson. There is a sense, though, that given the relatively short time between getting approval to move to Southern California, the Raiders still would hold training camp in Napa and maintain their home base of Alameda during the regular season, flying down to SoCal for home games, just as they did in 1982.
What does the NFL want the Raiders to do?
The cynic would see the league painting the Raiders into a corner by denying them a chance to move to Los Angeles, but “gifting” them additional loan money off the top of the $550 million relocation fees to be paid by the Rams and Chargers. Because the reality, as explained earlier, is that the Raiders’ dilemma with the city of Oakland remains status quo. Plus, the league, no doubt, would prefer the Raiders move in with the San Francisco 49ers some 34 miles down the road in Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium.
Raiders owner Mark Davis wants nothing to do with this idea, and good for him. Levi’s Stadium is the Niners’ home (even if it is about an hour south of San Francisco), which is apparent by the place’s color scheme, signage and, yes, team museum. The Raiders would be mere tenants, rather than cohabitants. Interestingly enough, though, Levi’s Stadium is closer to the Oakland Coliseum than it is to where Candlestick Park rested.
What might potential season ticket-holders need to do?
Basically, hurry up and wait. Because if the Raiders do win approval to move to L.A., the franchise needs to find that temporary venue first before the marketing and ticketing departments go into hyperdrive to set up for incoming ticket deposits and the like. And if their L.A. bid gets voted down, it’s much the same limbo situation because the Raiders need to settle on a venue for the 2016 season somewhere other than L.A. but most likely the Oakland Coliseum again. And only then would they be able to get set up to take deposits for tickets. Again. So yeah, hurry up and wait.