BURBANK (AP) — The man guiding the effort to build an NFL stadium near Los Angeles for the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers said Thursday that time is running short to get a deal done for the 2016 season.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told reporters that teams will be unable to move for next season if a decision is not made shortly, since relocation involves enormous work, from marketing tickets to new fans, finding temporary playing fields and finding homes for players and staff.
“There is not much leeway,” said Iger, who is serving as non-executive chairman of the joint venture planning the $1.8 billion stadium in the city of Carson. “If the decision is not made soon, neither team will be able to relocate” for 2016.
NFL owners plan to meet again next month to consider a possible move to the LA area, which has lacked a team since the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season.
Iger said he was confident league owners want to move a team — or teams — to the nation’s second-largest media market, but “whether they get that done on a timely enough basis, I don’t know yet.”
While a growing consensus of owners see Los Angeles as a ripe opportunity, it unclear what teams might move in, or when. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is pushing a rival stadium in nearby Inglewood, and he’s also willing to share his proposed stadium with either the Chargers or Raiders.
Under current rules, the next opportunity for a team to file to relocate would be in January. Any decision to move would have to clear a tangle of league hurdles, including winning the support of at least 24 of the 32 teams.
Iger’s comments, his first in public since taking the football post, came during a wide-ranging interview in which he discussed subjects from the need to touch up the Raiders’ rough-edged image to the potential challenges of selling tickets for two teams, simultaneously, to fans in a new market.
Asked about a possible split in the Carson plan that could send a team to Inglewood with the Rams, Iger said the Chargers and Raiders “have a solid partnership.”
“They are both committed to the partnership,” said Iger, emphasizing he was not speaking on behalf of team owners. “It is their goal to move together.”
Asked about the Raiders’ image, said the owner Mark Davis recognizes “there is still some brand repositioning that needs to be done.”
He said it wasn’t necessary to change the name or logo, but “there is some work to be done” while being careful not to alienate longtime fans.
“I think you make it more inclusive,” he said. “I think there are some stereotypes operating here too, by the way. Not every Raider fan drives a motorcycle and has tattoos,” he said.
Iger said moving two teams simultaneously would create challenges, but it would also be an exciting moment for the league.
“If you are going to bring the NFL back to a market that is this big, this important, then do it big. And two is much bigger than one,” he said.