NFL Wants Players to Pay for Los Angeles Stadium

Raider and Chargers fans gathered for a 'tail gate' party and rally before marching to Carson City Hall to support the building of a stadium that would house the two NFL franchises, on April 21, 2015.

Raider and Chargers fans gathered for a 'tail gate' party and rally before marching to Carson City Hall to support the building of a stadium that would house the two NFL franchises, on April 21, 2015.

Photographer: Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • Players could contribute about $300 million, sources say
  • Rams, Chargers and Raiders looking at No. 2 U.S. media market

The National Football League is asking its players to help finance any new stadium in Los Angeles, a prerequisite to putting a team in the No. 2 U.S. media market for the first time since the Raiders and Rams bolted in 1994.

The NFL players union, which confirmed the talks, typically assumes some of the cost of stadium financing through what are called stadium credits, negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement. However, team owners have exhausted the credits approved in the existing contract, which runs through 2020. Any additional money from players -- as for a proposed stadium in L.A. -- must be approved on a one-off basis.

Both the NFL and the city are eager to bring a team back to L.A. Officials in Carson, California, about 17 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, approved a $1.65 billion stadium project earlier this year to lure the San Diego Chargers, owned by billionaire real estate developer Alex Spanos, and the Oakland Raiders, owned by Mark Davis. The city council voted 3-0 to authorize the stadium without a vote of the people.

As Carson courts those two teams, Inglewood, a city about 13 miles to the northwest, is wooing the Rams, who are owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke. He bought the team in 2010 for about $750 million, and has bought land for an 80,000-seat stadium, the plans for which were approved by the Inglewood city council.

How much the players would pay for either stadium is unclear. The ultimate amount of a stadium credit is affected by several things, including how much projected revenue the proposed facility would generate.

$300 Million

Still, two executives from NFL teams said the credit could be worth about $300 million if two teams share the stadium. The executives requested anonymity because the league hasn’t commented on talks with the players association.

Whatever the amount, it would be excluded from the revenue calculation that determines the salary cap. The NFL generates more than $12 billion in annual revenue.

A clause in the collective bargaining agreement says the league, with regards to any stadium project in the Los Angeles area, can elect not to include it in the calculation of the Stadium Credit Threshold. If the players decline to approve a stadium credit, any new facility would have to be financed with public and private money, or with a loan from the NFL.

For the players, it’s an opportunity to renegotiate terms of the existing labor deal.

“When we signed the deal in 2011, we considered our role in growing the game and we review every investment opportunity and proposal carefully,” union spokesman George Atallah said.

Former Raiders Chief Executive Officer Amy Trask said the players have a good incentive to approve the credit. New facilities generate more revenue, which in turn raises the league-wide team salary cap. 

“The system is designed to insure that new facilities are tremendously economically beneficial,” Trask, now an analyst with CBS, said via e-mail. “Of course, the players benefit from such economic improvement” on a percentage basis, she said.

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