Relocation talk is already floating around out there. Ignore it.
It's been 16 hours since news broke of the arbitrators' decision favoring the St. Louis Rams' vision for the Dome. It took less than an hour for someone to hit the panic button, drawing a straight line from this news to the sunny environs of Southern California. A word of advice: chill.
Losing a team, especially for a city that's already lost one, makes for compelling talk radio, television live shots and extra page views. I love page views as much as the next guy; it's my livelihood. But stuff like this is a little irresponsible. From Pro Football Talk, which has made a comfortable niche pushing teams to L.A. in recent years, from Jacksonville to Minnesota:
The mayor's office calls it only a step in a broader process, but the Rams have now moved one giant leap closer to possibly bounding out of St. Louis.
Hold off on renting a parking space in Los Angeles. The CVC has 30 days to say no to the arbitrators' decision. Once that happens, as expected, the Rams and the city have until March 2015 to find a resolution before the team goes to a year-to-year lease on the Dome, when they would be free to leave.
For those of you who struggle with math, that's two years. Two years until the Rams could pack up and leave. Two years to find another solution to keep the team in and around the city.
The Mayor's office actually referred to the team wanting out of the Dome entirely. That's consistent with the rumors floating around now. For Stan Kroenke, the ideal situation would be a stadium of his own, generously subsidized by taxpayers. Stadium revenues would considerably up the profits of owning a team in a small market city, especially since most of those dollars go untouched by the NFL's revenue sharing plan with players.
Now, let's not be naive. I would be shocked if threats of relocation didn't pop up as part of this process. The Wilfs of New Jersey parked their jet in L.A. to motivate the state legislature there. It's a simple leverage play, and Mike Florio of all people should understand that ... and he does. If you read on in the piece at PFT, it takes a more reasonable tone.
A few other things to think about here:
- The NFL gets very uneasy with relocation talk. Not that they wouldn't ultimately allow it, but Roger Goodell and the cabal of owners view it as an absolute, last-ditch option.
- There are a number of possibilities for St. Louis that would have to be exhausted first. Public funding will be a contentious issue, but the economy could change, for better or worse, between now and 2015.
- With apologies to Farmers Field, the NFL has yet to find a suitable stadium solution in L.A. When I was at the owners meeting in October, Goodell made that very clear. The pending sale of AEG has complicated Farmers Field. Besides, FF and Roski's stadium do not have the kind of financing conditions the NFL would prefer.
For your sanity (and mine) I would be extraordinarily dubious of any and all relocation talk, especially considering where we are on the timeline.