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Politics

NFL May Move Up Timetable For Decision On Teams In LA

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league's spokesman on moving a team to Los Angeles, talks to the press about the Super Bowl, Jan. 22, 2014.
NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league's spokesman on moving a team to Los Angeles, talks to the press about the Super Bowl, Jan. 22, 2014.

Any action has implications for efforts to keep the Chargers in San Diego

The NFL could approve a team move to Los Angeles by the end of the year, with a club playing in the area by the 2016 season.

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league's lead man on a possible return to Los Angeles, said Wednesday the window for such applications that now begins Jan. 1 could be moved "to very late in the (upcoming) regular season." The 32 team owners could vote on a team's relocation "some weeks after that."

The team would play in an existing stadium until a new one is built.

Grubman said there were several options, though he declined to list them beyond the Rose Bowl and LA Coliseum, which was the Raiders' home before heading back to Oakland in 1995. Anaheim, where the Rams played before leaving for St. Louis that same year, also could be a temporary home for a relocated team.

Grubman said there has been enough progress "to the point where we think there could be at least one, and maybe two relocation proposals available to act on in time for the 2016 season. It's not done, so I don't label it as certain."

The Rams, Raiders and Chargers are involved in stadium projects in the Los Angeles area that Commissioner Roger Goodell has called "viable." Grubman said there have been discussions on moving one or two teams if no acceptable stadium projects come together in the current markets. San Diego and Oakland have teamed up on one LA project, in Carson, California. The Rams' project is in Inglewood.

"I think that when clubs have spent years trying to get something done and have reached that point in time where they explore their alternatives," Grubman added at the spring owners meetings, "whether it's in Los Angeles or any other market, and that exploration provides something that they can actually go do, then what happens is the timeframe gets defined."

The NFL also said if a stadium is built by 2018, Los Angeles would be a candidate to host the 2020 Super Bowl. Tampa, New Orleans, Atlanta and South Florida already are contenders for the games of 2019 and 2020.

Grubman made his comments in San Francisco, where the NFL owners are meeting this week.

He stressed that the burden is on St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland to present attractive stadium proposals to keep their teams. A new $1 billion stadium has been proposed in St. Louis; Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build a $1.8 billion facility in Inglewood.

San Diego and Oakland are much further behind on any stadium projects.

The Chargers and Raiders are moving ahead with a plan to build a joint $1.7 billion stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. It would be a 72,000-seat facility that the two rival teams would share if unable to get deals in their respective cities.

A task force appointed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on Monday a proposal to build a $1.1 billion facility for the Chargers on the current Qualcomm Stadium site. Representatives of the Chargers and city now need to meet to see if they can work out a deal.

The NFL's Grubman said, "There are some really important variables that are beyond our control. Most important is what the home markets do. That will define what each of the clubs wants to do and what the membership will do."

Colts owner Jim Irsay, familiar with moving a franchise because his father did so from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984, has little doubt the NFL will be back in Los Angeles soon.

"One thing for certain is there's going to be an NFL team in Los Angeles in the next couple of years," Irsay said. "That's exciting. The question isn't if, but how many, I guess."