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NFL Relocation Dance Part 3: The Phantom $100M, an Unlikely Marriage, Arsenal, and Potential Resolution

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In Part 1, Doug touched on the fan-owner relationship, Kroenke's blatant apathy for St Louis, and how his relocation filing doubled as a PR ploy attempting to threaten St Louis into backing down. All while touching on how $tan could be underestimating the fans he cares so little about.

In Part 2, he inter-weaved some of the intricacies coming from the relationships of the 3 owners that applied for LA as well as how $tan's giant stack of "moolah" makes him the wild-card for the entire situation - and the most dangerous. He also touched into how each team has a valid claim  to fans in LA

Part 3 is going to be much broader. There is much to discuss on the heels of St Louis' response to Kroenke's relocation application, and Roger Goodell's comments. And as we approach a potential resolution this week.

The Phantom $100 Million

The most interesting part of St. Louis' proposed stadium financing was the $300M that was being required from the NFL. It's common knowledge among NFL fans that the NFL is willing to provide up to $200M in funds for the funding of new stadiums via the G4 loan program. This program has been used to help resolve stadium situations in Minnesota and San Francisco and will likely be used in many stadiums in the future.

No, that's not a typo above... The City of St. Louis did indeed ask for $300M when the program specifically limits funding at $200M - which I very much doubt they did without consulting the NFL first. Turns out, the stadium task force consulted with the NFL's Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the extra contribution was suggested to the St. Louis stadium task force by one of the six members of the league’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities. The source says that a second L.A. committee member echoed the commitment.

While unable to bind the league, the committee members indicated that the extra $100 million would come from the redistribution of relocation fees paid by the team(s) that move to L.A.
(from ProFootballTalk)

On top of being in contact with the NFL's Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, the task force also consulted with the NFL's finance committee.

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair — head of the league’s powerful finance committee — had spoken favorably of the STL stadium proposal, and he’d made a deal with St. Louis task force co-chair Dave Peacock in which the NFL would kick in an extra $100 million to the stadium funding in exchange to ticket-tax revenues being funneled by the city to the Rams.

-Bernie Miklasz, 101 ESPN

The NFL's retort? That it is "...Fundamentally Inconsistent with NFL Policies." If it's so inconsistent with NFL policies, then why would Jerry Richardson's committee suggest it? They're primary focus is to uphold the NFL constitution, bylaws, and policies. The key thing to remember is that Goodell is an employee of the Owners. He should be toeing their line, and not the other way around.  Yes, it's his job to resolve differences between owners - of which there are many in this situation - but it's the owner's vote that matters most.

A popular "compromise" among NFL owners is a Rams-Chargers marriage. This might have been more feasible if Kroenke hadn't pulled the wool over Spanos' eyes already in this process. Trust is an awfully important thing in this kind of business/marriage, and it's missing right now between Kroenke and Spanos. Another issue, is that $tan doesn't want to share profits - nor the design of his stadium.

The man trumpeting that Rams-Chargers marriage to the NFL? None other than Kroenke's best ally: Jerry Jones. It seems fitting, since Kroenke wants to build his own NFL cornucopia in L.A. similar to "Jerry's World.'" It would be naive to think that Kroenke didn't ask him to submit the proposal - part of which would likely require the league to 'cut a deal' with the Raiders.

The Jones proposal would likely require the league cutting a deal with Davis, with one scenario the league providing $100 to $200 million on top of a $200 million loan from special stadium fund for a new 50,000-seat venue in Oakland.
-The Orange County Register

So let's get back to that $100M that's so troublesome for Goodell and the NFL. They're willing to "cut a deal" with the Raiders in order to forge a Rams-Chargers deal? That's awfully bold of the commish, who's position is explained in the NFL constitution as "a person of unquestioned integrity." Forgive me if I feel like forgoing a viable stadium deal in St Louis to hang Oakland out to dry..." Doesn't that just scream integrity?

I'm not sold that solving this $100M dilemma would put the St Louis stadium back on track. I feel certain that Eric Grubman, Roger Goodell, and $tan Kroenke would find more holes to poke in the proposal they never seemed interested in. However, it might strengthen their legal case to keep the team if they decide to sue the NFL or the Rams.

An Unlikely Marriage?

While momentum has been building for a Rams-Chargers, it likely won't happen unless Kroenke is willing to accept a 50-50 split in the project with Spanos. If that doesn't happen, this screams that the NFL will end up catering to the individual(s) with the deepest pockets...although it would be on par with the original plan of Rams-Chargers in Hollywood Park

But is the NFL certain that this partnership is built to last? Throughout this process Kroenke has shown a complete lack of regard for anything remotely regarding loyalty. As mentioned above, Kroenke swiped the Hollywood Park property after he and Spanos discussed it as a potential future home. What's stopping him from pulling more hi-jinx with any potential partner?

In the August Owner's meetings Kroenke was questioned whether his Inglewood project could support 2 teams. His response?

Yes, Kroenke replied, a lease agreement with a second team could be drawn up very quickly. Spanos was not amused.
The Orange County Register

Since then, Kroenke has slowly eased off that stance. Maybe he saw the writing on the wall... but his view seemed to change leading up to the October Owner's meetings.

while Kroenke's first choice would be a tenant/lease arrangement, the Rams are also open to more of an equity stake for a second team.

As of his arrival at the Houston meetings, Spanos is wavering slightly on his partnership with Raiders owner Mark Davis and plans to obey the vote of NFL owners...which is pretty much the opposite of what Kroenke has done thus far.

One has to wonder if this was Stan's play all along. It's a smart - if unpopular - move that gave him leverage from every angle. If the final plan was Rams-Chargers from the get-go, then $tan has played this marvelously. He may be underestimating the damage he's done to his relationship with Spanos. Is that damage reparable? Kroenke is willing to bet upwards of $2B that it is.

Even if they are able to mend fences, it would behoove Spanos and the NFL to have a plan B ready. What happens if Kroenke pulls out of the Inglewood agreement? The Chargers would obviously need somewhere to play and Spanos doesn't have the financial wherewithal to build it on his own. The NFL could have a bigger problem on it's hands if they force this marriage and an ugly divorce ensues.

Futbol!

The world's most popular sport may have a play in this whole shebang as well. Kroenke is the majority owner of Arsenal F.C. in the Premier League. He's gotten a pass on the NFL's cross ownership before. Kroenke has since passed the ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to other members of his family, but many look at that as a loophole Kroenke exploited to keep his assets close.

Loophole or not, the NFL only enforces the policy on teams in the US - in markets that compete with the NFL. While the NFL frequents London and has a long term vision to occupy the city, that's where their interest ends. NFL owners are free to dabble in foreign affairs as long as they stay foreign.

But will Arsenal stay foreign? Play along for a second....

If a Rams-Chargers alliance fails to materialize in Houston this week, the Rams could find themselves occupying a 2-team Inglewood stadium alone in 2019. $tan is too much of a businessman not to lease that space to someone. Soccer is huge in LA, and Kroenke has major ownership position in a big-time futbol club. It's not hard to connect the dots.

The NFL has a stranglehold of the sports dollars in the states,. but overseas it's another story. If big time futbol were to come to the states, then a whole 'nother set of grubby hands will enter the LA market searching for some of the sports revenue. The last thing that NFL owners want is overseas entities taking a bite out of their LA pie that they've worked so hard to preserve. Seeing the majority ownership of Arsenal passing from Kroenke may become a stipulation of any LA deal getting approved.

The countless endgames that have been considered by owners and fans have been whittled down to a half-dozen or so realistic possibilities in the days and weeks leading up to these Houston owner's meetings. With any luck, we may finally put this to rest by the end of the week? But don't be surprised if there's a last minute twist or turn that you don't expect...