The St. Louis Rams are moving to Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers have the option to go with them, NFL owners decided in a 30-2 vote Tuesday.
After a day of negotiations in Houston and months of speculation, the NFL has decided to build a new stadium in Inglewood, California, a suburb southwest of downtown LA.
The official ballot came down to two options: the Chargers and Oakland Raiders in Carson, or the Chargers and Rams in Inglewood.
Those were the only choices available. When the first vote came back 20-12 in favor of Inglewood, Chargers owner Dean Spanos was not very happy. He expected to be in the catbird seat with the Carson site earning approval.
Spanos said repeatedly he would abide by the decision the NFL makes. However, as soon as the NFL came to a decision to put the Rams and Chargers together, Spanos balked at the idea.
So Spanos went against what he said he would do and went against the decision. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Spanos, Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Raiders owner Mark Davis in to a room to work through the issue.
The Raiders reportedly bowed out, leaving the Rams and Chargers to go to Los Angeles. Still Spanos was not happy. So they worked out a situation where the Rams will move immediately and the Chargers will have the option to go to LA in 2017 or 2018.
The Chargers will have a year to work out a deal with the Rams in order for a move to be official, Goodell said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
But a deal may come sooner rather than later.
“In the next several weeks or so I’m going to sit down and look at all my options and make a decision in the near future,” said Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos. “I’m going to be objective and really think it out.”
When asked if he’s committed to San Diego for the 2016 season, Spanos did not confirm anything except to say, “I’m going to take the next several weeks and reflect on everything and we’ll be getting back to it, I’m sure.”
Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani said the NFL has put together the framework for a deal for the Chargers to share Inglewood with the Rams. That framework allows for a few different options.
“One is a lease offer; another is an equity partnership. There are different possibilities,” said Fabiani, who then confirmed the Chargers and the NFL are meeting late Tuesday night in Houston to further negotiate the terms of a potential deal that moves the Bolts to LA as early as the 2016 season.
Fabiani also said he expects Spanos and Rams owner Stan Kroenke to meet Tuesday night and talk in person about the possibility. If they are able to hammer out a deal it’s possible Spanos will not give San Diego the one year window we thought they’d had when the initial announcement was revealed.
That year would have conceivably given the Chargers time to work out a deal with their home town and stay for the long term in San Diego, but it’s going to be very difficult to resurrect all the bridges they burned along the way.
Goodell said if the Chargers decline to move, the Oakland Raiders will have the option to move to LA.
Whichever team stays in its current home, it will receive $100 million from the league to figure out a stadium solution.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Ron Roberts released this joint statement about the developments:
“Today NFL owners rejected the Chargers’ bid to move to Carson. If Mr. Spanos has a sincere interest in reaching a fair agreement in San Diego, we remain committed to negotiating in good faith. We are not interested in a charade by the Chargers if they continue to pursue Los Angeles.”
They plan to hold a news conference Wednesday to go into greater detail about San Diego's position.
Spanos released this response to the NFL's decision:
"My goal from the start of this process was to create the options necessary to safeguard the future of the Chargers franchise while respecting the will of my fellow NFL owners. Today we achieved this goal with the compromise reached by NFL ownership. The Chargers have been approved to relocate to Los Angeles, at the Inglewood location, at any time in the next year. In addition, the NFL has granted an additional $100 million in assistance in the event there is a potential solution that can be placed before voters in San Diego. I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers."
Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought the Inglewood land two years ago with plans to bring his team to the LA-area. Until Tuesday, the owner wanted to build a stadium just for the Rams, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered an alternative proposal a few days ago: to have the Chargers join the Rams in the same arena.
The proposal quickly gained enough traction to carry.
No NFL franchise has moved since the Houston Oilers went to Tennessee in 1997. The Raiders and Rams both left Los Angeles after the 1994 season. The Rams had been in the LA area since 1946.