“Power Brokers Playing the Game”
And so the meetings begin this morning, in New York, on Park Avenue.
The NFL owners, the ones who run the game, play the Monopoly game, as if they were on Boardwalk, and the rest of us were on St. Vincent Avenue.
NFL owners meet to configure out how to prop up two troubled franchises, the moribund Raiders, and the downward trending Chargers.
The ownership groups of both have problems. The Raiders, a poorly funded franchise. The Chargers, a poorly run franchise. Both playing in crumbling stadiums. One, Oakland, in a city fraught with economic and social woes. The other, in San Diego, with a melting pot population base that keeps voting down public funding, for most everything.
It’s a critical situation for the NFL. Hanging in the balance is the lucrative market in Los Angeles, which guarantees the next incoming owner, enormous value to his franchise.
The NFL has issues though. The rich man Stan Kroenke, funding the Hollywood Park stadium, owns a franchise that is a mess on the field, and in the front office. This is a huge embarrassment to the NFL, to have had 90,000-fans show up for the opening of the Rams season, then see the season burn to the ground, where home attendance plunged to a half full stadium by season’s finish.
The Raiders have a strong brand of fans up and down the West Coast, but play in a dungeon of a stadium, in a city that has no resources.
The Chargers have a credibility leadership problem at the top, with the Spanos family decision makers. They have insulted and offended the fan base, and the civic leadership, that wants to help. Not much talent on the field, and no political currency in town.
Beginning today, running thru tomorrow, this is how I see the NFL acting.
They will spend the bulk of their time trying to sort out the Raiders to Las Vegas scenario. Yes, they will say things like protecting the home market, getting it right, and doing all they can, but in the end, nothing can get accomplished in the East Bay.
The biggest issue for the NFL is not the Las Vegas market, and its clientele-fans-visitors, but rather the local money. Do they want to do business with casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who wants to be part owner?
The NFL should not pull the ‘morals’ card out of their pocket. Jerry Jones was part owner of the sports fantasy league, Draft Kings, and that is a semblance of gaming. The Giants, Jets, Patriots and other teams have casinos signage in their stadiums, and that’s advertising gambling and all, isn’t it?
Las Vegas has the money, the leadership and state support. It’s not like the NFL leaving Cleveland or Baltimore, or even St. Louis. Raiders fans will trave and Las Vegas believes its tourists will check out the product.
This looks like a slam dunk, and it solves one problem with the LA market. The Raiders are no longer in the equation.
On to the Chargers, where the problem is fraught with issues. The owner does not have the assets to pay 650M in territorial fees to move to LA, even if he gets a stadium rent deal of just a dollar a year from Stan Kroenke.
He goes into a market with a poor product, in a town that does not want him, and the shiny new stadium is not going to net him the big cash flow you would expect, because he is a tenant..
His real goal is likely to drive the value of his team up to 2B, then have the Spanos family sell the team, take the profits, and go off into the sunset. Chargers fans would cheer, but they will have lost the franchise to LA, after ownership wrecked the relationships in San Diego.
The NFL committees can come up with bridge financing to help San Diego come up with the money to build a new stadium in Mission Valley.
But that entails another set of problems. If the NFL goes beyond its initial promises, does it not open a can of worms with the next group of cities that need money for stadium construction?. If you gave and gave and gave to save San Diego, are you doing the same for Buffalo or Jacksonville or the next city?
I am convinced the NFL does not want Spanos and Sons in Los Angeles. Remembering that the shield is all about profits, and new revenue streams, and therefore making the 2nd team in LA an expansion team, is the real end-game here. It may be four years from now, but think of what they would charge, to put an NFL team into Los Angeles and London, and the profits they would realize?
So they fork over another 200M to get the San Diego deal done, but realize that expansion in a couple of years, would net them, maybe 5B with a couple of more teams.
It allows Kroenke the time to finish the stadium, and fix his ailing franchise too.
And with the Raiders heading to Las Vegas, and a San Diego solution possibly coming to a vote, the NFL could still give the Bolts a year’s extension as a protection against a “no” vote from city-county taxpayers on the new Mission Valley stadium. Spanos might still have that option in 2018, but the NFL will push for everyone to vote ‘yes” to finance this, and keep their team.
Oh one other item, about Chargers leadership.
Anyone want to bet me, Dean Spanos and Mark Fabiani announce on Thursday afternoon, an hour or so before Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s “State of the City” address, that Spanos has agreed to a new resolution by the NFL.
Just track the history of the stuff Spanos and Fabiani pulled off in 2014 and 2015, as the Mayor, city and county, tried to put together financing. Every CSAG press conference or announcement, was preceeded by something the Chargers did, or were going to do, to soil what San Diego was going to do.
Real slime-ball stuff. Happened non-stop for over a year. You think a tiger changes his stripes?
The owner agrees to stay here another years, and work to get something passed, with the NFL money. They will want to paint him as the ‘savour’ of the Chargers franchise, after he was the ‘devil’ for two years running, trying to move.
I’m not big in conspiracy theories, just connecting all the dots, from all the people I have spoken to.
Raiders to Las Vegas. Chargers get another year with hope to get the deal done. NFL helps fix the Rams. Still to be delivered an expansion franchise in LA down-the-road.
Check with me Friday morning. I think I am right.
Like I said, Monopoly game here. Chargers, pass go, and collect 200-dollars, and we won’t let you land on Baltic Avenue.
It’s the way the NFL does business. All for one, one for all, as long as it all goes into their pockets.