Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, will become chairman of the Chargers and Raiders stadium project in Carson, Calif., it was announced this week. The Chargers and Raiders continue to build an all-star executive team that also includes Carmen Policy, former NFL executive and head of Carson Holdings. The addition of Iger makes the Carson project the front-runner for the race to relocate to Los Angeles after professional football left 20 years ago.
The NFL and its owners have grand visions for the team or teams moving into the L.A. market. L.A. boasts the second-largest media market, a slew of Fortune 500 companies and a potential fan base looking for NFL action. The city is also experiencing somewhat of a renaissance as tech companies are moving in, the city is attracting more international visitors and LA2024 is building a plan for the Olympics. The NFL stadium won’t just be the home for football team(s), it will be a destination for tourists and host major events.
If that’s the goal, there is no better person to put in charge than Iger. Disney is a recognized leader in the venue and hospitality space, and Iger will bring his years of experience to the Carson project. Iger’s involvement aligns with the NFL’s vision that the stadium in L.A. won’t provide the usual game-day experience, but rather highlight the venue and locale as an entertainment and hospitality destination.
Iger has also worked closely with NFL leadership as ESPN/ABC partners with the league to distribute Monday Night Football. He understands how the league runs and knows exactly what type of vision owners outside the L.A. market are looking for. In business, it always helps to work with someone you are comfortable and familiar with on a professional level.
It also doesn’t hurt that the competing project, the Rams’ proposed venue in Inglewood, is running into issues with the FAA. Now, that might not matter. Even if the Rams could build a stadium anywhere Los Angeles, if the league isn’t comfortable with the team put in place to execute its re-entrance into the L.A. market, it won’t get done. Iger’s experience and history of success at Disney tilts the scales in favor of the Carson project, and it might even be a deciding factor.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.