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The Daily News of Los Angeles
The Rams will officially break ground on their new $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood today. Nearly a year after the NFL approved the Rams relocation from St. Louis to L.A., construction will finally begin on a home many predict will set the gold standard for NFL stadiums and surrounding development.
When Stan Kroenke's palace opens in 2019, Jared Goff will be entering his third season and, ideally, reaching peak performance befitting a quarterback taken with the first overall pick. With a tweak here and a tweak there to the current offense, who knows, maybe Goff and the Rams will perched for a Super Bowl appearance when their new home hosts the big game in 2021.
Big dreams for a big city, right?
But why stop there?
Why not go all in with a Super Bowl of exclusively Los Angeles teams?
How's that you say?
Anyone up for a L.A. Rams vs. L.A. Raiders Super Bowl?
Or L.A. Rams vs. L.A. Chargers?
Got your attention yet?
We know for sure the Rams will take the field at the Inglewood stadium when it opens in 2019.
Still left to be determined is whether a second team does, too. The Chargers and Raiders both have league-approved options to join the Rams in Inglewood at some point, and there are easily imaginable scenarios in which either ends up in L.A.
The Chargers hold the first option, and have until January to decide whether to exercise it or give it one more try in San Diego, where the downtown stadium measure they backed was defeated by voters last week.
Do the Chargers give it another go in San Diego, where a more plausible, less costly plan in Mission Valley could emerge and face an easier approval threshold than the downtown project?
Or do they pull the trigger on Los Angeles?
Chargers owner Dean Spanos is expected to make a decision on his next move by early January.
Either way, what becomes of the Raiders?
They have $750 million in approved funding from Nevada for a new stadium in Las Vegas, but in a bit of a reversal, there seems to be growing support within the NFL for them to exercise their L.A. option if it falls to them.
That leaves open the door for the Raiders to return to the city they called home from 1982-94 and where they still maintain a strong foothold.
And it contradicts an outdated belief the league is wary of the Raiders and owner Mark Davis setting up shop in the second-biggest market in the country. Or the sentiment the league wants to squeeze out Davis as owner of the Raiders.
In fact, a high-ranking NFL official, who spoke on the condition his name not be used because of the sensitive nature of the process, said the notion the league wants Davis out is "complete BS."
In contrast, he said, there is growing admiration for the work Davis has done on and off the field since taking control of the Raiders after the death of his father, Al, in 2011.
Davis has skillfully worked his franchise into two strong stadium positions in Las Vegas and Los Angeles after years of frustration in Oakland.
And he has his team in first place.
Davis intends to file for relocation to Las Vegas in January, and he'll need 24 votes from fellow NFL owners for approval. As it stands, the Raiders ending up in Las Vegas seems the most likely outcome, with the Chargers either getting more time to sort things out in San Diego or exercising their L.A. option.
But a scenario could develop in which Los Angeles officially opens to the Raiders - it would require the Chargers staying in San Diego - and NFL owners deciding whether the Raiders and their powerful brand are more valuable to the league in Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
In Oakland, city leaders are working with a group led by former NFL great Ronnie Lott on a development deal for the land on which the Raiders' current stadium sits. Few details have emerged, including what happens to the A's and their long-term stadium lease, but presumably a portion of that land will be made available for a new Raiders stadium.
Two problems: The Raiders have no interest, and even less confidence, and the league is dubious about stadium plans in which its teams take a secondary seat to outside developers.
For now, the Raiders' heart is set on Las Vegas. And considering the $750 million in public money on the table from Nevada, and how much weight that kind of public contribution has in league circles, it seems a good bet they'll get their wish.
But the Raiders have clearly made strides cleaning up their image. So much so, the NFL might actually prefer them in Los Angeles.
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