St. Louis approves stadium funding in effort to keep Rams from LA
SAN DIEGO — City leaders in St. Louis Friday approved spending $150 million on a new stadium in an effort to keep the Rams in town, which could have a major impact on whether the Chargers stay in San Diego or leave for Los Angeles.
The Rams and Chargers are two of three National Football League franchises eyeing a move to the lucrative Los Angeles market. NFL owners plan to meet next month in Houston, and could begin making decisions on which team, or teams, will be allowed to relocate.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the city’s Board of Alderman voted 17-10 at the end of a contentious two-hour meeting to approve the financing package, which includes state money and contributions from the Rams and the NFL.
If St. Louis is successful in convincing the NFL to let the Rams stay, then the owners focus would narrow to the Chargers and the third team, the Oakland Raiders.
However, the St. Louis financing package envisions a league contribution of $300 million toward construction costs. Earlier this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed city officials that the league wouldn’t go above its standard grant of $200 million.
It’s the second time this week that leaders of another city took action that could affect the Chargers future.
Tuesday, the Carson City Council placed a moratorium on development of land adjacent to where the Chargers and Oakland Raiders have jointly proposed erecting their own stadium. The stoppage will allow leaders in the Los Angeles County city to consider development that’s compatible with a stadium project.
The Chargers have been asking San Diego officials for a new home to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium for nearly 15 years but have been stymied by city fiscal woes and the recession.
Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins is the Chargers home finale for the 2015 season, and since they’re not going to the playoffs, it could be the last time they appear in San Diego as the home team.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has proposed building a replacement adjacent to Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, but the Chargers haven’t negotiated with the city since June because of a dispute over the city’s handing of an environmental study. Representatives of the city and county of San Diego have taken their case directly to NFL executives in the past few months.
Faulconer has also met with most of the owners on a committee studying Los Angeles relocation issues. However, Houston Texas owner Bob McNair canceled a meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday and also made critical, and mostly inaccurate, remarks about the political situation in San Diego.
Neither Faulconer nor Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani would comment on the possibility that Sunday would be the last Chargers home game in San Diego.