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NFL Relocation Dance Partners: Part 2

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In Part 1, I grazed along some of the many lines this whole re-location mess could take. It was a warm up, but let's face it: There's fan passions, history, and loads of money being bandied about in this...

Taking a look at the three NFL teams who've filed relocation paperwork might be an interesting place to dive in? What's more, we now know more about how the two main NFL plans in the L.A. area have evolved. In one case, when Kroenke bought the Inglewood property for his glam stadium project, we now know he kind of "short-sheeted San Diego owner Dean Spanos - who approached Kroenke with the idea, only to have "The Mighty Stan" buy the property without him... There's "terrorism" in this too, or at least the potential? What deal - of any kind - doesn't need a terrorism angle to heighten the drama...

"...In December, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge noted the FAA's inquiry in a letter to Panthers owner Richardson, copied to the rest of the L.A. committee. The letter called for public hearings about safety and security for either stadium. Ridge previously authored a report detailing the Inglewood site's susceptibility to terrorism." - Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno, L.A. Times/ Chicago Tribune

We've got competing deals, with billions of dollars in play. There's even a "Red Headed Step-child" - my apologies to any red headed step children out there... - in that, no one really seems to want to partner with the Oakland Raiders and Mark Davis? It's the "bowl-haircut", Mark! You look like one of the guys in "Dumb and Dumber"... So when the NFL owners vote, and you get all of two or three votes, just take it from me: No, this doesn't mean you have a chance...

Dumb and Dumber

Ironically, it's Oakland who has the most to complain about when it comes to a new stadium. The Oakland Coliseum is run down, and badly in need of being replaced. As bad as the Chargers' stadium is, it's not even in the same area code when it comes to being a broken down stadium. St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome is the newest stadium of the three, but not up to snuff with top tier NFL venues.

San Diego's owner Dean Spanos suggested partnering with Davis in the Carson, CA plan. It came about when Stan Kroenke decided to go it alone in Inglewood, CA. Plus, while he has more money than Mark Davis, Spanos isn't really someone who can sit at the Billionaires table. He needs a co-tenant for his Carson plan to make it viable.

Stan Kroenke is the guy to watch in this. With a huge stack of money of his own, he probably could tap some of the WalMart "cha-ching" he's married into. He's planning to foot the bill on building his stadium all on his own, without any community infusion of funds. Plus, anyone headed to L.A. gets to write a check for a "Personal Team License" as a relocation fee -$550 million. Don't you love the irony? We fans grind our teeth about paying "Personal Seat Licenses", and now an owner gets to feel our pain too!

In all honesty, it's really hard for me to believe Kroenke hasn't been planning this for quite some time. The Edward Jones Dome isn't a great place, but its cheap, with a favorable lease. He knew what he had when he bought out the remaining shares from the Frontiere estate. You'd hear - every now and then - the Rams make complaints or requests for changes in the EJD, but I've begun to think they were more to establish a future legal cause, than anything else. Don't get me wrong: The EJD reminds me more of a warehouse than a great football stadium. I'm pretty sure Reggie Bush agrees with me, too...

Both Spanos and Davis appear to be towing the NFL line, and more than willing to accept any vote that's held. I can't really say the same for Kroenke, whose currently pulling out all the stops to convince his fellow owners he's risking financial ruin, potential destruction of a fabled NFL franchise legacy, and quite possibly enhanced Global Warming, if he's forced to stay in St. Louis...

If there's anything that's going to bite Kroenke in the ass if a vote is held, it's that Dean Spanos is a well liked owner. If the stories are true about "Silent Stan" nudging Spanos out of the Inglewood deal, Kronke's other business deal quirks may be brought up too? His former partner in real estate - Michael Staenberg - would probably love a chance to sting Stan? The truth is, if I were an NFL owner, would I want a guy who may not be trustworthy in the #2 market in the U.S.?

The L.A. market is not a guaranteed land o' money for an NFL team. I mentioned a few "worry points" in Part 1. Plus, don't discount the enormous risk for the ENTIRE league if a team doesn't flourish in L.A. Even with Kroenke saying he'll foot the entire bill for his new digs, he'll probably hit the NFL up for the low interest money - $200 million - they make available to its owners for a new stadium. Now imagine if - for argument's sake - the Rams fail to take hold in L.A. Then imagine what Kroenke would do to help recover his money? You see, he has this big time soccer team...

If Kroenke is allowed to move into L.A. on his own, I think the shoe we haven't seen drop is Arsenal F. C. - and other Premier league teams - suddenly becoming regular tenants? I've mention this before, but I'll say it again: Imagine the NFL's happy face when they find out they helped finance bringing big time soccer to the #2 TV market in the U.S.! It could be Kroenke's private plan, and why he's trying so hard to go it alone in L.A.? This could change the entire complexity of this whole relocation issue. Suddenly, financial players from outside the U.S. may very well begin to weigh in. The NFL's private U.S. sandbox may not be so private anymore... Don't shake your heads! I honestly think this thought isn't just my own, and more than a few NFL owners may be thinking along the same lines. If they aren't taking in what Kroenke could do, they're fools...

Kroenke hasn't really lived up to promises made when he acquired the remaining shares of the Rams. He was supposed to divest himself of other sport interests, but took his own sweet time. He bought the land in L.A. without notifying the NFL, and explained it away as "just another investment" at the time.

I've already mentioned how much I loath any owner moving a team. But if a team goes to L.A., I think San Diego has the strongest claim. The number of Chargers fans in the L.A. area may have been overstated by them - 25% of their fans? - but in the end, they're only 90-ish miles away from where they plan to move. The Rams have the strongest argument when it comes to a potential "in place" fan base, since the team used to be based in L.A., and expanded its reach a bit by moving - for a short time - further south to Anaheim, CA.

Oakland claims a huge L.A. fan base from one of the zillion times they rumbled up and down Interstate 5 during Al Davis' time. Let's not get too oversold on this contention, in that the Raiders are literally an iconic NFL franchise, known around the world. I tend to think a great percentage of their L.A. fan base were already fans before they came to town. Make-up, glitzy costumes with spikes... It was "L.A.-ish" even when they were playing in Oakland...

The biggest problem NFL owners will have with Oakland and Mark Davis is their financial strength, but how easily they've pulled up stakes and moved in the past has to haunt the league too. If they struggle in L.A., there's no reason to think they won't simply move again. It's true, and you know it. "Das Bowl Cut" doesn't really inspire confidence, especial with rumors he's had trouble placing guaranteed contract funds in escrow at times. A financial failure in the L.A. market would send shock waves thru the league...

*****

In Part 3, I'll try to meld in events as they unfold. Things are starting to clear, with relocation filing becoming public, and host cities' response are made available. I think before this all ends, Rams, Chargers, and Raiders fans will wish - whichever team moves - that the team simply skulked out of town like the Browns/Ravens did so many years ago...