NFL saga: Rough day for San Diego, Oakland fans

New L.A. NFL team would be a wasteThere hasn’t been much hard news for months in coverage of which NFL team or teams will relocate to Los Angeles, with reporters not having many insights to offer beyond a sense that the St. Louis Rams might have the upper hand with Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league because their stadium venture in Inglewood is further along and their owner, Stan Kroenke, is by far the richest of the teams interested in a move. This vague status quo was rocked Wednesday with an announcement from the Chargers. Dan McSwain, a Union-Tribune business columnist, explains.

In a move that considerably increases their odds of leaving San Diego, the Chargers announced Wednesday a new leader for their Carson stadium project — Bob Iger, the chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company.


The deal matches the team with arguably the world’s most successful and powerful entertainment-industry executive. In addition, Iger received an option to become a minority owner of the Chargers or the Oakland Raiders, the team’s partner on the Carson project.  …


For fans who hoped the Chargers were just using Carson to bluff San Diego officials into making a better stadium offer, the deal represents a serious setback. For the NFL’s 32 owners, it offers a soothing tonic to those worried that Chargers CEO Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis might bungle the league’s reentry into Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest market.


Without question, the deal “has a dramatic impact,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant based in Chicago who helped the Raiders and Rams leave Los Angeles two decades ago. “At the risk of mixing sports metaphors, it’s a grand slam home run.”

The Los Angeles Times framed the development in similar fashion:

Carmen Policy, a former NFL executive who now serves as executive director of Carson Holdings, the joint venture between the Chargers and Raiders, called the addition of Iger a “game-changer.”


“We now have the kind of leadership and expertise that should calm any concerns about any NFL teams going into L.A. and getting off on the right foot and pursuing the right course,” Policy said. “Who could we get to better guarantee fan experience than the man who runs ‘the happiest place on earth?’”


Iger would be chairman of Carson Holdings and would continue to serve as chairman and CEO of Disney under the terms of his contract.

‘Get ready for Raiders to leave. Again’

250px-Oakland_Raiders.svgBay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson noted the strong ties between Iger and the NFL and the fact that the league appears to want the Chargers and Raiders to add minority owners to beef up their finances before moving. He thinks the league is tipping its hand about its preference:

[The] connections and resources are there but the NFL and the Raiders prefer to use them for L.A. Not for Oakland. They’ll stay if they can make millions, even billions, off a new stadium if they only have to pay a portion of the cost. But if it’s all on them, they chose L.A.


That makes sense, too. That’s the new landscape of sports. That small-time model doesn’t return the profits required when you consider how much all of this costs. These figures are getting so astronomical, the league and teams must do all they can to ensure a profit. And the return on investment, theoretically, stands to be much bigger in Los Angeles than in Oakland.


That means, Raiders fans, start preparing for your Raiders to leave. Again.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has among the best NFL sources of any journalist. In league circles, he writes, the Iger announcement is also considered a big deal:

The arrangement with Iger could be the key to getting enough owners to support a move by two teams to L.A., especially if one of them is the Raiders. Previously, the mood among the folks who run the sport was that the Raiders should stay in Oakland — unless owner Mark Davis sells the team or involves a partner with sufficient business acumen to help the franchise thrive in L.A. If Iger buys a piece of the Raiders, Iger could be the guy who helps Davis properly run the team in a more competitive market.


Until Iger leaves Disney and joins the Raiders, the president Iger hires to run the stadium presumably would, as a practical matter, assist the two teams who play there with the broader business challenges of operating in L.A.


With the ownership vote on L.A. looming, this could be the Hail Mary play by the folks in Carson that gets their attention, and that in turn makes the Christmas Eve meeting between the Chargers and Raiders in Oakland even more memorable. Possibly for all the wrong reasons.

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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