Editor's note: Raiders Insider Scott Bair is in Houston this week to cover the NFL owners LA relocation vote. Stay logged on CSNBayArea.com for comprehensive coverage.
HOUSTON -- Mark Davis heads to Houston on Monday as owner of the Oakland Raiders. He could leave later this week representing a different city.
The Raiders could be headed to Los Angeles, and soon.
They’re one of three teams hoping to play in the nation’s second largest media market starting next season and, after months of preparation, politics and posturing, this race is nearing the finish. Formal applications were submitted on Jan. 4. While a delay remains possible, NFL owners are expected to discuss and decide which teams are moving to L.A. on Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston.
Right now, NFL owners have a few options on the table. The Raiders and San Diego Chargers have partnered on a $1.7-billion stadium proposal in Carson. The St. Louis Rams are promoting a $1.86-billion project in Inglewood that includes a stadium and surrounding developments promising to be an entertainment hub.
And, according to several published reports, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has submitted a third option than involves putting the Chargers and Rams together at the Inglewood site.
That would leave the Raiders out in the cold. It’s also a mere discussion point at this stage. League sources said on Sunday night that Raiders and Chargers remain committed to the Carson project and their partnership heading into these meetings.
A decision can’t be made without a vote. Franchise relocation must be approved with a three-quarters majority, meaning 24 votes are required to move. A proper whip count hasn’t been made public, but each side is believed to have the votes required to block a competing proposal.
That could mean a negotiated compromise is on the horizon. Taking care of popular Chargers chairman Dean Spanos and bringing Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s cash to Los Angeles either in Inglewood or Carson has been a common suggestion in days leading up to the Houston sessions, though the whole situation remains in flux and no outcome is certain.
It is, however, extremely likely that one or probably two teams will play in Los Angeles next season and pony up a $550 million relocation fee to do it. The third team won’t leave empty-handed. A sum of cash could be a consolation prize to help build a stadium in a home market or another.
The Raiders hope the Carson project is approved as is. The city of Oakland hopes that Davis is an odd man out. That would give the East Bay hub more time to keep the Raiders in town, a prospect nowhere close to fruition.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has promised not to spend public dollars on stadium construction, but is willing to pay for infrastructure and issue bonds to help build a new football stadium. As a starting point, Davis wants more free land on the O.Co Coliseum site than Oakland is willing to give.
Oakland was in no position to prevent the Raiders from meeting relocation deadlines with an actionable stadium proposal. The city didn’t have one prior to the league’s Dec. 30 deadline for home-market stadium submission, something expected by all parties and reiterated in a letter to the NFL.
San Diego and St. Louis submitted proposals to keep their teams in town. San Diego suggested a $1.1-billion stadium in the city’s Mission Valley area that included $350 million in public funds available if approved by a June 2016 vote. St. Louis was the farthest along, committing $400 million to a $1.1 billion project on the riverfront.
Neither plan was deemed good enough. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said so in a report to league owners obtained by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday night. Goodell said current stadiums in Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego are “unsatisfactory and inadequate,” and that new stadium proposals failed to keep any team in its home market.
The Goodell report kept all three teams in the game and was a real disappointment to St. Louis, which hoped to force the Rams to stay put.
Goodell didn’t make a recommendation on Carson or Inglewood but said that both options are viable. He also stated that L.A. can support two teams.
A few national reports have stated that some owners are leery of bringing the Raiders to L.A. – the Silver and Black played in Southern California from 1982-94 -- that they might not be able to maximize current L.A. opportunities.
Whether that perception prevents the Raiders from moving remains uncertain. The Raiders haven't released their relocation application – the Chargers made a summary public, the Rams released a full list of reasons – but they are currently gung-ho about going to L.A. despite a long-held desire to remain in Oakland. Whether they’re allowed to leave should be known pretty soon.