NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expects owners will vote on franchise relocation to Los Angeles.
When is another matter.
Goodell said Wednesday the owners expressed interest “in wanting to be there, but also recognize we need to find solutions. Our relocation policy is very important.”
The St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers all have designs on moving to LA, which has not had an NFL franchise since 1995, when the Rams and Raiders left. The current timetable calls for submission of applications to relocate in January, when the owners could vote.
There has been speculation that timetable could be moved up to December, when the next owners meeting occurs in Dallas. But Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney said he doesn’t envision that.
“I don’t think we’ll move up the deadline,” Rooney said. “We have cities that still are putting together their proposals” to keep their teams.
Eric Grubman, the league’s main point man on Los Angeles, added that the NFL is not married to a vote in January, either, and that it could come later, particularly if one of the applicants is in the playoffs.
“Our timeline and planning for at least 12 months has been to enable a January decision,” Grubman said. “But we have never committed to January. Today we continued on that path. … It could be January or it could be later.”
Grubman admitted for a team or two to call LA home next season, the latest it could get approval would probably be March or April.
“If you look at it through what a club has to do if they’re not certain they’re going to Los Angeles, do they put their tickets on sale or not, then January is much much better than March,” he said.
The Rams are proposing a stadium in Inglewood, California, while the Raiders and Chargers have one planned for Carson. Those teams’ owners were excused from a round table session during Wednesday’s fall meetings, and the other 29 owners voiced their opinions on approving any moves to LA.
Goodell said it’s “very positive” to have two alternatives in what he also called “the entertainment capital of the world.”
Neither California team has had success in getting public funding for a new stadium; Goodell noted that has been happening “for decades.” Missouri has come through with a plan for a $1 billion stadium to keep the Rams, but there are delays in that proposal.
Earlier Wednesday, the owners approved more international games through 2025, including ones in places other than England. Such as quite possibly Mexico, Germany and Canada.
“We think it’s time to expand our international series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the U.K., but elsewhere around the world,” Goodell said.
So an agreement to stage games in the United Kingdom through 2016 not only was extended, but other nations will be considered for international games. Mexico, where one regular-season game was played in 2005 and drew a record attendance of 103,467, is a front-runner for next year.
“That’s our biggest fan base, our most vibrant market,” said Mark Waller, the league’s vice president/international. “It would be a logical place to start.”
The NFL will announce the 2016 international games this fall. Three games are being held at London’s Wembley Stadium this season for the second straight year, and that number could be increased.
Earlier this year, the NFL agreed with English Premier League club Tottenham to play at least two games a season at its new stadium in north London, which is scheduled to open in 2018. That is a 10-year deal.
Now, other locales very much are in play.
“The great news now is that we have the ability to go look at all geographies,” Waller said. “We’d like to see if we can add a game in a new country for 2016. That’s our goal.”
The league also is looking at Toronto and Vancouver, and several cities in Germany have expressed interest in hosting games.
The Pro Bowl also could land in international sites. Brazil has expressed interest in the all-star game, and Waller said Australia, South Africa and Asia also were potential sites, but probably not before early 2018.
—Goodell reiterated that the league will continue to vigorously pursue in court reinstating Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for using underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game. Brady had the suspension set aside in federal court last month.
—In the wake of the officiating mistake at the end of Detroit’s loss to Seattle on Monday night, Goodell said rules for use of instant replay in officiating “clearly will be discussed again” by the powerful competition committee.
—The league approved a cross-ownership proposal for Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He will be allowed to transfer ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his wife, and retain the Rams. The NFL has prohibited an owner from also having other sports franchises in different cities.
—SiriusXM satellite radio extended its deal to carry NFL broadcasts for six more years. SiriusXM has partnered with the NFL since 2004.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this story.
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