David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Just hours before the NFL owners voted 30-2 to let the Rams and Stan Kroenke move to Inglewood, an "influential league committee" of owners handling the Los Angeles negotiations voted 5-1 in favor of the Carson project.
The six-man committee included Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who supported Chargers owner Dean Spanos and backed the Carson project vehemently.
The committee was chaired by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II and included New England's Robert Kraft, Carolina's Richardson, Kansas City's Clark Hunt, Houston's Bob McNair and the New York Giants' John Mara.
Rooney also sided with the Carson project, while the lone dissenter of the six-man committee, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, said he felt the NFL "would be best served by having less realignment."
Several owners quietly supported Hunt's dissent and that showed when they would vote 30-2 in favor of the Inglewood project.
"Carson never had the 'wow' factor," one top executive told Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
"The Rams project did, and sentiment for that project became a tsunami," he added.
Once the owners heard the results of the committee's 5-1 vote, it was their turn to vote.
For any proposal to pass, a three-quarters majority, 24 votes, was required.
Here's where things got interesting.
According to King, Goodell was approached by six to eight owners who were in favor of a "secret ballot" for the vote.
"[Goodell] knew neither side had the votes to win, but he also felt owners needed to vote their consciences, so proposing the secret ballot was something he felt he had to propose," one source told King.
Goodell proposed the secret ballot to the owners, needing a majority for it to pass.
When 17 owners raised their hands, and the secret ballot was instituted.
According to King, "There was something about the Rams/Inglewood project, while inconvenient for those who wanted the Chargers and Raiders stadium issues fixed in one fell swoop, many owners knew it was better for the NFL long-term."
Think about it, the Inglewood stadium will put the Dallas Cowboys stadium to shame.
Construction of the stadium and the surrounding areas could reach over $3 billion.
The surrounding areas will have many office and media buildings, which the NFL and NFL Network plan to use.
The stadium itself will be a fine addition to the Super Bowl rotation, as well as providing a main base for "NFL West," as King describes it.
Also accompanying the stadium is a 6,000-seat theater, with a similar atmosphere to that of L.A. Live.
The first vote (remember, a three-quarters majority is needed to pass) came out either 21-11 or 20-12, depending on what sources you ask, in favor of the Inglewood project.
The vote absolutely blindsided Chargers owner Dean Spanos, who was reportedly "Utterly shocked -- white as a sheet."
It became apparent that Kroenke's Inglewood project, with all of its bells and whistles, was most preferred by the owners, who were using a secret ballot to cast their true opinions.
Kroenke's commitment to throw billions into the project was something the Chargers and Raiders weren't willing to do.
Since no three-quarters majority was reached on the first vote, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti suggested a compromise.
Bisciotti suggested giving the owners the option to vote for "Inglewood plus one other team" as well as just the Carson and Inglewood projects.
This kept the door open for the Chargers and possibly the Raiders to move to Los Angeles, appealing to the concerns of many of those who dissented in the first vote.
The six-man committee and Goodell decided the Inglewood project, while also giving the Chargers a one-year option to join the Rams in Inglewood, was the best possible solution for bringing back an NFL team (or two) to Los Angeles.
If the Chargers do not exercise that option, then the Raiders have one year to decide whether or not to join the Rams in Inglewood.
Also, the NFL agreed to give the Chargers and Raiders both $100 million if they could reach new stadium deals in their existing markets.
Kroenke reportedly wanted to have the Inglewood stadium to himself, but if allowing a team to join him meant having the league's blessing for the project, Kroenke was all for it.
The Rams owner also agreed to a revenue split if a team does join him in Inglewood, which would allow the second team to keep all game-day revenue in and around the stadium.
He also agreed that the second team would receive 18.75 percent of all other "lucrative deals associated with the new stadium -- such as signage and stadium naming rights."
This time, the vote passed by an overwhelming majority: 30-2.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was allegedly a major supporter of Kroenke's Inglewood project.
Jones wanted to the deal to be about the owner who had the deepest pockets and the most commitment to making NFL in LA work.
Spanos now faces a difficult decision: to rid himself of all financial worry and move to Los Angeles, or to improve the stadium in San Diego and keep the team there.
David Rosenthal is a web producer for CBS Los Angeles. David lives in Los Angeles and is a Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, and Rams fan. If you have any questions or comments for him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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