(CN) – The end of the race to Los Angeles could be in sight, but a clear favorite has yet to emerge as the NFL owners meeting in Houston kicks off Tuesday. Ending the league’s 21-year absence from the nation’s second-largest television market is the sole item on the agenda.
The St. Louis Rams have plans to build a stadium in Inglewood, while the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have teamed up for a proposed stadium in nearby Carson, 13 miles from the Inglewood site.
The NFL’s 32 owners will decide whether one, two or no teams of the three vying for the market will get approval.
There is also a proposed stadium in St. Louis designed to keep the Rams there, for the owners to consider.
While the league tries to persuade the public that the time is simply right to return to L.A., in reality NFL owners will be deciding which proposal – or most likely what last-minute deal or compromise – will maximize league profits.
The NFL brought in $12 billion in revenue last season, a 16 percent jump from the previous season, and is expected to bring in $13 billion this season, according to CNNMoney.
The revenue jumps are largely due to new television broadcast deals, which brought in an additional $900 million. A move to L.A. would figure to put the NFL in line for another massive payday the next time those television deals come up.
According to Forbes, the average NFL team is worth $2 billion. The Chargers (worth $1.525 billion), the Rams ($1.45 billion) and the Raiders ($1.43 billion) all figure to double their value instantly with a move to L.A.
The three proposed stadiums – the two in Los Angeles and the one in St. Louis – offer different strengths and weaknesses.
The Rams’ Inglewood plan calls for a covered venue that blends into a sprawling mixed-use development that could compete with L.A. Live, according to the Los Angeles Times. It would have artificial turf and could be used for other high-profile events, such as the NCAA Final Four.
The stadium, estimated at $2 billion, will be privately financed. It would hold 70,000 for regular season games and could increase its capacity to 100,000 for special events such as the Super Bowl. The Rams’ application for relocation estimated that a Super Bowl at the venue could bring $50 million to the NFL.
Land around the stadium would include offices, restaurants, shops and a 6,000-seat performance venue. It would also house space for the NFL’s television network.
In November, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a report stating that the stadium could interfere with radar at Los Angeles International Airport.
Addressing those concerns could add to the stadium’s price tag, but it isn’t expected to be a deal breaker for Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke, who is worth $7.2 billion.
The two-team proposal for Carson is more traditional, with parking lots that allow fans to tailgate surrounding an eye-catching open-air stadium.
The Chargers and Raiders would share the costs of the $1.7 billion stadium with financing from Goldman Sachs, which had a similar role in construction of the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara.
The stadium’s exterior is sleek and futuristic, with flowing lines designers hope will make it instantly recognizable. A massive video screen on the stadium side would allow tailgating fans to watch other NFL games in the spirit of a drive-in theater, before taking in the actual game on the stadium’s natural turf.
Feeding into the NFL’s desire to tap into Hollywood’s glitz and glamour with L.A. relocation, the Chargers and Raiders have partnered with Disney Chairman Bob Iger, who will oversee the stadium project and head its marketing.
One issue is that the stadium would be built over a former landfill. The landfill remediation, overseen by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, can’t be completed until plans for the site are completed. The DTSC confirmed that the site is suitable for a stadium and related buildings, according to the Times.
In St. Louis, a task force formed by Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed a $1 billion stadium on the Mississippi riverfront. The open-air stadium would seat 64,000 fans.
The proposal calls for $150 million from the city, $250 million from the team owner, at least $200 million from the league, and $160 million in fan seat licenses. The rest of the money would come from the state, through tax credits or bonds.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved its part of the financing in December, contingent on the NFL’s spending $300 million instead of $200 million on it.
On Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the St. Louis proposal inadequate. Goodell cited the extra $100 million required of the NFL as one of the reasons for his decision.
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