The NFL used Los Angeles as leverage for over 20 years. Apparently old habits die hard, as there is some discussion that the league doesn’t want to let that leverage go. That would mean that the Chargers — a team that resoundingly lost a ballot initiative for stadium funding — don’t move up the freeway to Los Angeles. It also means that the Raiders stay in Oakland or move to Las Vegas — and the move to Sin City is fraught with concerns. The truth is the best business situation is the current status quo.
We’ve said it multiple times, Las Vegas is not as appealing as a market as some seem to think it is. When the novelty of a NFL road trip wears off for visiting fans, the Raiders may struggle in Nevada. Compare that to the large fan base the team already has in Oakland, and the fact that the Bay Area is somehow still growing — check out those housing price increases — and it always made sense to stay in Oakland. There’s more companies, buzz, history, and long term success in Oakland. The move to Vegas would be a quick flashy situation and could lead to struggle down the line, especially if the team doesn’t win in a much smaller market.
San Diego is actually a big enough media market that the NFL wants to keep a team there, but there is also another reason. The NFL may want to leverage Los Angeles for the future. There will be other teams that may move, or want tax payer funding for a new stadium. Keeping the Chargers out of Los Angeles helps that. There’s just one problem: the Spanos family didn’t want one team taking their L.A. market, why would they want two?
Think about the Rams and Team X in Los Angeles, and the Chargers in San Diego. The NFL may want the Chargers to stay, but if this is the future scenario — especially since they won’t be getting public money — the Chargers could be extremely angry. In their mind its either one team in Los Angeles — the Rams — or Rams and Chargers. It is not three teams within a three hour drive of each other.
There’s still time for everything to remain the same, and that is the NFL’s preference. It’s the best long-term business decision. The problem is the entire situation was bungled from the beginning. Three owners, crying poor saying they need to move to Los Angeles created two positions where the Raiders and Chargers can’t stay in their current homes. You can’t say you need to move because your house is inhospitable and then not move. That just shows the surrounding community you are a liar. There needs to be some contingency plans — remodeling current stadiums, working with new groups to find funding in the current situation. If there aren’t plans in place the NFL could have two teams in L.A., one team in Vegas, and no teams in the San Diego and Oakland markets. The Niners play in Santa Clara and do pull a large number of TV viewers from the Bay so the NFL can take solace in that.
No one knows what’s next, but if the Chargers move to Los Angeles it feels like no one will be happy with the situation. If the Raiders move to Vegas only Mark Davis and Jerry Jones will be happy. These moves can’t be made out of spite, desperation, or just because “we told you we would move if we didn’t get money!”