San Diego Leads Off NFL’s LA Team Sweepstakes

With the citizens of San Diego on high alert in observance of a sign, any sign, that their beloved Chargers will not leave them behind for Los Angeles, recent comments by the team’s owner and legal counsel have done nothing to assauge that concern.

LA Downtown Stadium map

(Batter up: Chargers step into November ballot box)

Beginning on February 1, the San Diego NFL team has an annually-granted, three-month window in which it may decide to exercise an early-termination clause in its Qualcomm Stadium lease. If the Chargers were to enact that right in 2012, which expires on April 1, the result would mean a $24 million payment to the city of San Diego - and an NFL team for Los Angeles.

Matthew T. Hall of reported this week that Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced at a press conference Tuesday that while Chargers GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner will stay with the team, he refused to confirm the same, immediate fate for the city of San Diego.

At a news conference, he did not even commit to the Chargers staying next season. “All I am telling you is we want to be in San Diego,” Spanos said. “I remain consistent with that.”

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has also been fronting the team’s public position on a possible move to Los Angeles. On Tuesday, Fabiani told Hall via email that there was, “nothing new on the (lease termination) trigger today.

While those comments may seem ominous as it pertains to the Chargers staying in San Diego, the club is currently in the throes of a negotiation with the city for a downtown stadium. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders reportedly hopes to release substantive details of such a deal in March, with the hope that such a proposal would be voted on by the local citizenry in November.

Last year the Chargers confirmed in early December they had no plans to get out of their Qualcomm lease but this year such an announcement - at least in relation to the annual lease termination window - has not been made. Though concern over such a delay is mitigated considering such an early assurance by the team would reduce the Chargers’ leverage in its current negotiation with the city for a new stadium.

Perhaps in deference to San Diego’s hope that a stadium deal for the Chargers could be voted on by the public in late 2012, last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said not to expect news of a move to Los Angeles anytime soon:

“We want (football) to return in a successful way, and that requires a stadium. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to make that decision by 2012, but we’ll continue to work with the different alternatives in Los Angeles and hope that we get a solution that will work.”

While Goodell continues to reference “different alternatives” in Los Angeles, all that remains for L.A. to be NFL-ready is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required of downtown Los Angeles NFL stadium proponent AEG.

While AEG’s EIR will be released in 2012, the comments period after the report hits the public in February won’t conclude until after the lease termination window for the Chargers has expired for this year.

The EIR, which is significant but not likely to hinder AEG’s downtown stadium from going forward, is likely the final sign Goodell and the NFL need to confirm that Los Angeles has a stadium “solution that will work” for the league.

Considering that San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders does not want to be known as the man who allowed the Chargers to move on his watch, expect him and other local officials to do everything they can to put a new Chargers stadium plan to a public vote before 2012 is over.

While such a vote will likely be the final word on the Chargers in San Diego, Sports by Brooks has been told by multiple sources familiar with the situation that it will not ultimately dictate LA’s NFL fate.

The Chargers would indeed be a turnkey solution for AEG in securing an NFL team for Los Angeles, but if the people of San Diego keep their team via the ballot box, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Oakland will officially be on the clock.

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Public Money For NFL LA Stadium Not Pipe Dream

Sam Farmer of the LOS ANGELES TIMES has comments from AEG’s Tim Leiweke in Los Angeles Thursday that go a long way to illuminating how Leiweke and downtown L.A. stadium partner Casey Wasserman plan to pitch the public for money for the proposed project.

AEG's Tim Leiweke leading plan for $1B downtown L.A. NFL Stadium

(Tim Leiweke is leading L.A. NFL Stadium Project, a baller)

As I’ve previously reported, AEG, which was integral to building Staples Center, has no plans to include a significant amount of its own money in the building of a downtown, multi-billion dollar stadium that would be the centerpiece of an expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

So if AEG isn’t going to spend its own money on a stadium that could lure an NFL team back to L.A., how do they plan to raise the money for the construction of the project? Read more…

NFL Return To LA Hinges On 2022 World Cup Bid

Three months ago I strongly suggested that soccer could play a major role in whether the NFL returns to Los Angeles some time this decade. In the past week, there’s been new developments that only serve to confirm that notion.

World Cup 2022 Bid Committee

(Anschutz, Leiweke (above) and Wasserman: Pitching own LA stadium deal)

Until today, the United States had been bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Friday morning the U.S. World Cup Bid Committee announced that it is no longer targeting 2018 and instead will focus all of its efforts on 2022 - a year in which the U.S. is regarded as a favorite to obtain event.

Billionaire Philip Anschutz and AEG entertainment company President Tim Leiweke are influential members of that U.S. World Cup Bid Committee. They also happen to be the men who, along with Southern California real estate magnate Ed Roski, were prime movers in getting L.A.’s Staples Center built. More recently, Anschutz and Leiweke were behind the newly-opened downtown L.A. Live entertainment and shopping district.

Anschutz may be the highest-profile proponent of soccer in the United States, having essentially owned half of MLS in the past as a founding partner of the fledging league.

Now it’s Anschutz’s aim to bring the World Cup back to the U.S. in 2022 in a bid that Leiweke and L.A.-based sports business tycoon Casey Wasserman - who is also on the World Cup Bid Committee - hope will provide the political support to unlock funds necessary for a downtown Los Angeles retractable-roof stadium.

As front men for the deal, Leiweke and Wasserman first went public of their intention to lead the charge for a downtown L.A. stadium in April. They’ve since reiterated that desire in public on a few occasions, though curiously not over-emphasizing the issue’s elephant in the room: World Cup soccer.

In August I reported Anschutz, Leiweke and AEG had no plans for a large financial stake in the downtown L.A. stadium project. Instead, the facility plan would rely on other private investment and public funds.

At this moment, the prospect of raising public or private funds in Los Angeles for your next laundry load - let alone a multi-billion dollar downtown L.A. stadium project - isn’t laughable, it’s hysterical.

That’s where the World Cup comes in.

If the U.S. does secure the soccer tournament in 2022, it’s safe bet that Leiweke and Wasserman will use that fact to gain consideration from politicians, the public and private equity in an attempt to set the stage for raising funds for the downtown L.A. stadium.

Remember when I said that Leiweke and Wasserman hadn’t been publicly trumpeting World Cup soccer as being inexorably connected to a new downtown L.A. stadium? (Which could also house an NFL team.)

In the past week, we found out why. Read more…

Finally! All Of The Pieces In Place For NFL-To-LA

If you asked me yesterday afternoon what the chances of an NFL team moving to L.A. were in the next five years, I’d have told you zero. I’ve contended from the very beginning that the City of Industry stadium bid by Ed Roski will never happen, and there’s been nothing in recent months to suggest otherwise.

NFL Stadiums in Los Angeles Comparison

(1201 Figueroa St.: NFL’s newest address?)

But last night here in Los Angeles something happened that makes me think we will indeed have NFL football here in the next five years. Maybe sooner. Read more…

Goodell To LA NFL Guys: ‘We’re Just Not Into You’

Yesterday Roger Goodell obliterated the L.A. NFL bid by Majestic Realty’s Ed Roski and John Semcken with one seemingly innocuous, though telling statement:

NFL Wannabes Ed Roski Jr.

“The key issue is the challenges of financing a facility in this environment with the labor agreement that we have. The cost of building that stadium is almost entirely on the ownership and that is a big burden to pay in this type of environment.”

Why is that statement by Goodell a clear indication that the NFL has no intention of partnering with Roski and Semcken? Because before Goodell said that, he already knew that Roski and Semcken were more than capable of financing the deal privately with their own money.

To drive that point home, Semcken told the PASADENA STAR NEWS after Goodell’s statement:We have zero concern about our ability to finance the building. We know what the numbers are and we know how we are going to do it.“ 

Read more…

LA Mayor Lobbied Dementia-Impaired NFL Owner?

Much to my delight, I discovered that the former Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, apparently has a column for the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. His latest piece reminds me of the golden age of journalism, when Larry King’s “King’s Things” made USA Today the must-read powerhouse of the printed word that it is today.

Alex Spanos Willie Brown Antonio Villaraigosa

(Villaraigosa lobbied dementia-suffering Spanos about Bolts-to-L.A.?)

The crazy thing is, Brown doesn’t just cover Frisco. He covers all! Excerpt:

Here’s a scoop. The San Diego Chargers are looking to move to Los Angeles.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his people were at the Chargers playoff game last week, and they were being extremely solicitous of team owner Alex Spanos.

Yeah, you read that right. Alex Spanos. One problem though, Alex Spanos, sadly, recently revealed he has dementia, and has essentially removed himself from public life.

So was Brown wrong in his reportage? If you know Villaraigosa like we know Villaraigoisa in this town, not necessarily. Read more…

Brog: Vikings Rebuff LA Billionaire NFL Wannabe

Two of the primary guys trying to bring the NFL to L.A., Ed Roski and John Semcken, have been out banging pots and pans this week, trying to get the local media to bite on their latest claim that an NFL team will move to L.A. in time to play the 2009 season.

NFL Wannabes Ed Roski Jr.

Like lemmings, the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY (CA) TRIBUNE picked up comments by Semcken today, as part of an essentially baseless report:

Developer Ed Roski Jr.’s business partner says he has “no doubt” a National Football League team will play in Los Angeles in 2009, most likely at the Rose Bowl. Majestic Realty Vice President John Semcken also said he believes there is a possibility two NFL teams could wind up playing in the $800 million stadium Roski wants to build in Industry.

“We are going to have a team here next September,” Semcken said Tuesday afternoon.

There’s absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that an NFL team is poised to move to Los Angeles anytime soon. If there was, I’d know about it, or it would’ve leaked by now.

Not coincidentally, the MINNY STAR-TRIBUNE and ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS report tonight that new-stadium-less Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf was recently contacted by Roski about moving the team to Los Angeles - and had no interest. (Heritage clubs like the Vikes will never move - see Cleveland Browns.)

That’s not to say that a team moving here in the next couple years is outside the realm of possibility. But baseless bellowing by Roski and Semcken will do nothing to speed the process. I still bet that the fine gents over at AEG may have a role in bringing a team here before it’s all over. Their biggest problem? They won’t grab their ankles for the league and egomaniacal local yocal politicians.

Sports blogs like SbB have forever been accused by main media of going overboard with the T & A. Usually, when posting photos of the female form, we have a legit sports angle. (OK, not always.) But I find it rather ironic that many of those same (rapidly-fossilizing) finger pointers are now doing what we’ve long been accused of.

Detroit News' Traffic Grab(a$$)

Take for instance the venerable DETROIT NEWS, and its “Sideline Satire” section. I’ll bet you didn’t know that an enormous collection of cropped-off pics of female Olympic athlete a$$es qualified as satire these days.

Apparently it does in Detroit.

Olympic Fatty

Whoops! How’d that get through?

And just how serious is the editorial staff at the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES about servicing their readers in the middle of the night when the wife is asleep with football about to hit?

Jenn Sterger

(Reminds me, where’s that sock I left the orange in?)

They’ve hired Jenn Sterger to do football picks. I’m assuming she’ll be steering clear of Jets games, seeing as all the inside team hotel rooms info she’ll be privy to.

Seriously fellas, if you’re going to try to post random, gratuitous girlie pics with a laughably flimsy sports connex, step aside and let a professional show you how it’s done:

Busty Baseball Girl

TMZ has been cornering the sports celeb gossip market lately, this time with an exclusive on Tom Brady’s recent Brentwood real estate purchase. Brady, along with his girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, just dropped $11M on a residential lot in the city O.J. made (in)famous.

The two are planning a 20,000 square foot home together, which is apparently intended to allow Brady to be closer to the infant son he had with Bridget Moynihan (Moynihan’s reps denied the assertion).

Meanwhile, in another QB-related land grab, Tony Romo just spent a paltry $699K on his new DFW spread.

Gisele Bundchen Jessica Simpson

Let’s see, $20M+ to live with Gisele Bundchen or $699K to live with Jessica Simpson?

Earlier this week, Ticketmaster said it planned to attempt to expand its business (a “major push“) in China.

L.A.-based Barry Rudin, the largest ticket broker on the west coast and SbB sponsor, told me Wednesday, “I don’t think there is much to sell in China. There is however a lot of money there. I would have to see what events will sell well. I think certain concerts and sporting events could work. However, you are completely at the mercy of the government.

Last sentence is something the IOC and the accompanying media came to realize the last couple weeks.

FYI: I’ll be at the UCLA-Tennessee game at the Rose Bowl on Barry’s dime this Monday night, with a live blog on SbB (and a SbB Girl in tow!).  Don’t be a stranger.

A.J. Daulerio of DEADSPIN tracks down an interoffice letter apparently from Roger Ebert of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES to the dearly departed Jay Mariotti.

Ebert: “On your way out, don’t let the door bang you on the ass.

Read more…