By Annie Ross
The second-largest city and media market in the United States, which has been without the good graces of even one NFL team for 20 years, is on the verge of getting two.
NFL owners voted Tuesday to move the St. Louis Rams back to the city they called home for nearly 50 years, and they gave the San Diego Chargers the right to join the Rams if the two franchises can work out a deal to share the planned stadium, or $100 million to help finance a stadium in San Diego.
The vote came after years of negotiations, land deals, stalled talks and lobbying within the exclusive club that is the NFL owners group. Ultimately, the owners voted to approve a move by one of its wealthiest owners, Stan Kroenke, who controls one of the most valuable large parcels of undeveloped land in the Los Angeles region— site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood where the franchise plans to build a $2 billion stadium, and Alex Spanos, scion of the Chargers, who has owned his team for more than 30 years.
“We worked hard and we got a little bit lucky,” said Kroenke, whose team won its only Super Bowl in St. Louis. “It is a difficult process and it is bittersweet.”
Dean Spanos, Alex’s son, said the deal allowed him to safeguard the future of the franchise and the options to continue negotiating with San Diego. “I’m going to look at all our options,” he said.
Left out in the cold was Mark Davis and the Oakland Raiders. One of the league’s lowest revenue clubs, the Raiders play in one of the league’s most antiquated stadiums. Until Tuesday the Raiders and Chargers had an agreement to partner for a stadium in Carson, about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The franchises had even hired the influentialWalt Disney chief executive Bob Iger to lead the project, and initially, an ownership sub-committee on Los Angeles voted earlier Tuesday to recommend the Carson project. However, the project failed to receive the necessary three-quarters approval, or 24 votes, to get passed.