Oakland continues to lag behind the other two cities hoping to retain their NFL teams and keep them from relocating to Los Angeles, an NFL official said Wednesday. In fact, the drive to keep the Raiders in the East Bay seems to be going in the wrong direction.
“Each time I’ve gone there, I’ve heard that the promise is right around the corner of a massive development ... that will include substantial proceeds from a developer, a third party or fourth party or multiple parties of developers,” said Eric Grubman, who is overseeing the league’s efforts to return to Los Angeles. “So I’ve heard that for three of four years and it hasn’t been produced. And we now have lost all that time. The time has shrunk and no results have been produced; that, to me, is going backward.”
Los Angeles, which hasn’t had an NFL franchise since the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season, was the chief topic at Wednesday’s owners meeting with the owners receiving updates on where things stand among the three markets – Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego – hoping to retain their teams.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said there has been “tremendous progress” with St. Louis’ plan to build a stadium for the Rams, for example, but he said he hasn’t heard a specific proposal for the Raiders.
Is that a point of frustration, Goodell was asked?
“I don’t know if it’s a point of frustration, but it’s a point of information,” he said with a chuckle.
Asked about the possibility of the Raiders sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers, Grubman said the Santa Clara venue is equipped to handle two teams but that it’s not one of the myriad scenarios the league is studying. On Tuesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis said he isn’t interested in playing at Levi’s.
Instead, the Raiders and Chargers are pursuing a joint stadium in Carson, south of downtown Los Angeles. The Rams are considering building a facility in Inglewood on the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack.
One owner said it was clear after listening to the presentations Wednesday that none of the three home markets have stadium plans that are as far along as the two Los Angeles-area proposals.
“The home markets have a lot of ground to make up to get to where the L.A. initiatives are,” the 49ers’ Jed York said.
No action was taken Wednesday on the Los Angeles projects. However, the league continues to show signs that it believes at least one team will play there in 2016. For example:
▪ Goodell raised the possibility of a Super Bowl being at a Los Angeles-area site in February 2020. If a team moves to the Los Angeles area, it can submit an application next spring to host the game, he said.
▪ Goodell said he is looking into moving the deadline for submitting a relocation bid from January to December and shrinking the window in which those bids are decided. The aim is to give any team that might relocate plenty of time to make the move when the regular season ends.
▪ The league has hired a third-party firm to assess the potential sites and team combinations in terms of selling tickets and personal seat licenses.
▪ Grubman said temporary sites, beyond obvious ones like the Rose Bowl or L.A. Coliseum, are being considered while venues are being built. “I could probably start to count,” he said of the possibilities, “and easily get to multiple fingers on my two hands.”
With multiple teams perhaps bidding for a move to Los Angeles in seven months, a return to Southern California is more likely than it’s been in the past two decades.
The big question: Which team or teams will relocate? The answer, Grubman said, largely depends on stadium proposals from the teams’ home markets.
“That will define to a great extent what each club wants to do and what the membership thinks should be done, and it’s too early to tell what those proposals will be or won’t be,” he said.