In his never-ending quest to (a) make all the money in the world and (b) return the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl, owner Jerry Jones has sold his soul to the devil so many times, the devil seems to no longer be interested.
But the NFL apparently is.
As evidence, there was Owner Jones’ suspiciously overenthusiastic involvement this week in the NFL’s Los Angeles relocation vote.
It was Jerry who championed the proposal Tuesday that led to the owners approving Stan Kroenke’s bid to build a new stadium in Inglewood, Calif., and return the Rams to LA.
And it was Jerry who called Kroenke an “angel,” and called the Rams’ relocation “absolutely the greatest plan ever conceived in sports.”
“This is a tidewater day, if you will,” Jones told our newspaper’s Charean Williams after the vote in Houston.
Tidewater? Well, owners Dean Spanos of the Chargers and Mark Davis of the Raiders surely must have felt swamped.
The vote was supposed to be a standoff, with Kroenke already having bulldozers on site at the former Hollywood Park racetrack and with Spanos and Davis planning to build their new stadium down the I-405 freeway in Carson.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided, however, that the relocation vote would be taken by secret ballot, the well-liked Spanos’ brotherly support suddenly flipped.
The Chargers have one year to decide whether they want to join the Rams at the new Inglewood stadium, scheduled to be finished in 2019. Meanwhile, Davis, son of the late and legendary rogue Al Davis, was left with a $100 million parting gift and a nudge back toward Oakland.
Spanos doesn’t have much choice. The earliest that a public vote could be held to fund a new San Diego stadium is June. A complete environmental review of the proposed Mission Valley site could take two years.
But the NFL owners already knew that. They want two franchises relocating to Los Angeles, because each franchise that moves must pay the league a $550 million relocation fee.
Just do the math. Once you subtract Goodell’s “finders fee” — he’ll take one, won’t he? — each NFL owner stands to gain more than $30 million from the two moving teams.
That’s a bloody, but hefty, rebate for the owners for abandoning two good NFL cities. But it still doesn’t explain why Owner Jones gushed so much and then shared drinks with Kroenke after the vote.
The answer likely lies in the land around the proposed new stadium. Kroenke’s plan for the 300 acres calls for residential space, a boutique hotel, office space, a lake and a spectacular 80,000-seat stadium by HKS, the firm that designed AT&T Stadium for Jones.
Follow the money in the deal, and I’ll bet you’ll find the tidewater that Owner Jones talked about. Jerry likes his pockets to overflow.
It’s nothing illegal. Kroenke’s stadium and surrounding development are being privately financed.
But Jones’ maneuvering was hardly saintly, either. He just doesn’t work that way.
The owners caved easily, as it turned out. Kroenke’s new “NFL World” campus will probably house NFL-themed shops, TV studios and headquarters, all designed to make them more money.
Can the LA population support two teams? It won’t matter once the NFL lifts its TV blackout rules and reaps the benefits of its newly resuscitated Los Angeles market.
The secret ballot allowed NFL owners to vote with their checkbooks, if not their consciences.
Not that Jerry Jones has the latter. Right, St. Louis?