22 October 2009

LA stadium bill passes, your move teams

The barn door is officially open. Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB X3 81 today, allowing Ed Roski's stadium project to sidestep environmental laws by negating a citizen-initiated legal challenge. While the process is often tedious and wasteful, the idea of legislating a legal maneuver for a single, entirely local project doesn't sit well with me. It's emblematic of what's wrong with the state.

Majestic Realty veep John Semcken has been making the rounds with numerous media outlets in the leadup to bill passage. In doing so, he's revealed bits and pieces of Roski's demands for what a team needs to provide in order to move to the Industry stadium.

During an interview with ESPN 710 (mp3) in LA, Semcken noted that Roski would be okay with 40% of the team and non-controlling interest, which was surprising to me. Roski currently owns minority, non-controlling shares of both the Kings and Lakers, and he built Staples Center. You could infer the successful precedent as saying that he's comfortable with a particular business model, and he's fine with duplicating it. But like any incredibly rich man, Roski must have an ego. So you'd figure he'd be interested in a controlling interest in the crown jewel franchise. That he apparently doesn't is a sign of his willingness to get 'er done. It could also be interpreted as an unwillingness to put up a ton of cash for a team.

Other tidbits from the interview (which I haven't noticed in the regular media coverage):
  • A team's move to LA is being pitched as an overall revenue generator for the league, much like an A's move from Oakland to San Jose. Supposedly, this new revenue would more than offset a TV revenue loss. The NFL has spent $14 million "studying" SoCal.
  • Six teams are on the potential candidate list: Jaguars, Bills, Rams, Vikings, Chargers, and Raiders. The 49ers are off the list for the time being because they're going through the development process in Santa Clara. Only the Rams are outwardly for sale, as most of you who follow this stuff closely already know.
  • The stadium will have two home locker rooms and two visitor locker rooms. Just in case.
Should one of the non-California teams move, it could set in motion an odd set of realignment moves which will probably make several owners unhappy.
  • Jaguars: Strangely, this might create little upheaval. The Jags could conceivably stay in the AFC South while the AFC West stays intact. They'd be the only team in their division on the West Coast, but at least none of their rivals would be on the East Coast (I won't get into Indiana's completely schizophrenic time zone mess). Kansas City and the Jags could switch places as an alternative.
  • Bills: This would probably create some kind of domino effect in which multiple teams moved to different divisions. It would make the most sense for the Bills to move to the AFC West, pushing the Chiefs to the AFC South. Indianapolis, which is north of AFC North team Cincinnati, would join them in the division. The Jags would join Florida big brother Miami in the AFC East.
  • Rams: Easily the most frictionless option. The Rams already have history in LA and they have spent their entire post-merger existence in the NFC West.
  • Vikings: Moving the Vikes out of what Chris Berman affectionately calls the "NFC Norris Division" seems downright blasphemous. Could they stay there? I suppose so, since Tampa Bay was long the long distance, warm weather outsider in the old NFC Central for over two decades. It would make more sense to move the Vikes to the NFC West and the Rams to the NFC North, however.
As for the Chargers and Raiders, they've been written about plenty already. Let the mating dance begin.