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The NFL has been dangling a Los Angeles franchise as a carrot to owners seeking to leave their current locations and a stick to cities and fan bases to pony up for new stadiums to keep their teams. And the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and St. Louis Rams have each officially entered the three-way battle royale for L.A.
All three teams filed applications for relocation to the NFL on Monday, and league officials will begin meeting on Wednesday to decide which team(s) will begin the 2016 season in L.A., and a formal recommendation is expected by the owners meetings in Houston on January 12th and 13th.
At this point there are two main proposals on the table. The two existing California teams, the Chargers and Raiders, have submitted a joint plan that would see the teams share a stadium in Carson. While San Diego and Oakland have both made nominal submissions to keep the teams, neither has a stadium plan in place so the submissions aren't seen as "actionable" by the league.
The St. Louis separation has been far more acrimonious. Rams owner Stan Kroenke kicked off the race for L.A. with a $1.86 billion stadium proposal in Inglewood, and St. Louis countered with a $1.1 billion stadium proposal of its own in an effort to keep the team in town. The NFL will review that proposal along with the relocation applications.
Speaking of St. Louis, the Rams were the only team that made their application for relocation public, and oh boy. Beyond trashing the city's economic and population growth potential, the application trashed the city's fan potential, claiming "St. Louis Is Not A Three Team Market." (Sorry, "best fans in baseball.")
To be sure, the Chargers and Raiders are saying similar things about their current homes and fans, all in the hopes of getting the NFL's golden ticket. But at least one of these teams will have to return to the city and supporters its currently rejecting, and that sure will be fun.
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