Left Untreated: Flint Michigan Water Crisis – Follow Up

In a follow up to an earlier story on this terrible tragedy in Flint, Michigan where the water supply has been unsafe and slowly making the residents there very sick; some new information emerged today. It was originally reported in the Detroit Free Press and AP who have both done some insightful reporting on this shocking story.

The mystery behind why the water from the Flint River was allowed to flow freely without being properly treated stems from two issues: a mistake by a state level official and an equipment upgrade to the city water treatment facility that Flint could not afford. Those two issues combined to cause a horrible disaster where for 14 months contaminated water entered every house, school, business, and park in Flint.

First, the mistake by the state level official, Mike Prysby, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was asked by the plant supervisor of the Flint water treatment facility about the addition of phosphate to the water, which is an anti-corrosive to prevent the leaching of lead into the water supply. The response from Prysby, according to AP, was that phosphorous did not have to be added for an entire year, which was a completely incorrect answer with horrendous consequences.

Second, there are other media reports out of Michigan that explain that the Flint water treatment plant needed upgraded equipment in order to properly add the amount of phosphate and other anti-corrosive additives in the correct amounts to deal with that large a water supply. The reason why the plant upgrades were not done was because Flint was broke and was already operating with a city manager that was making budget cuts on a widespread level.

The city eventually formally submitted a grant for the money, about $8 million, for water plant facility upgrades, but this was several months after the change in the supply was made to the local water supply instead of from the Detroit water supply chain. The damage was essentially already done.

Damage Control

The current situation there calls for a complete removal and replacement of all the pipes in the City of Flint, which they have petitioned to Congress for that funding. This entire tragedy, the backdrop to it being a combination of human error, negligence, and potentially being dishonest with the public about how widespread the financial issues facing Flint were begs the question: How can we fix this terrible situation? How can we prevent it from happening again, if it has not already occurred? What changes need to be made to the model of how the typical American city is managed?

I do not know the answers to these questions, but maybe someone in the audience does have some feedback or ideas in this regard. I am still researching and trying to determine how this damage can be reversed, how it can be controlled, but I know that some of it cannot be reversed. The damage to children and other more susceptible residential populations with regard to lead poisoning has already been done.

No Guidelines

The news on Flint also comes amid reports of potentially similar water contamination problems in many other American cities, towns, and communities. The EPA came under fire last week regarding the lack of commitment to any type of new guidelines regarding the levels of lead in the water supply. The agency made some indications about a year ago that it was readying a protocol for lead in municipal water systems. The EPA has come under intense scrutiny for the fact that in the wake of the events in Flint, they are still not coming forward with any type of guidance regarding this horrendous public health problem.

The agency has stated that they are still investigating and evaluating certain methods to determine the correct lead contamination protocols and testing procedures. The EPA has taken the position that they do not want to rush to judgement on the issue.

Conversely, there is a growing public sentiment that believe that the EPA needs to release some guidelines for the handling of lead in the water supply because it poses such a significant public safety risk. The situation, unfortunately, is very political and it should not be.

The news revealed this week that the tragedy with lead poisoning in the water supply in Flint could have been averted will only stand to make the residents there and in other parts of America increasingly angry and distressed. It will do nothing but add salt to the wounds of the parents with sick children in that Michigan city.

My original article posed the question: how could this happen? This story reveals the answer. It is proof of the consequences of actions when things are left untreated, in this case literally. Many questions still remain including: what happens next? How can it be fixed? I do not have those answers sadly, and I am deeply upset that I even have to ask them in the first place.

San Diego Chargers Downtown Stadium Proposal News

In a follow up to earlier news stories on this topic, the San Diego Chargers of the NFL have advanced their proposed stadium plan for the downtown waterfront site in details that were leaked to the media on Tuesday. Several local news sources in San Diego have reported on this development, and the full proposal is expected to be formally released at some point this week.

The new stadium for the team is being sent through a process called citizens initiative which in the State of California is similar to a referendum voting mechanism. In this process if a certain amount of votes is gained on the proposed issue at hand then the measure will gain approval. The Chargers and the City of San Diego municipal officials are utilizing this mechanism because if the stadium proposal passes via citizens’ initiative, then the exhaustive environmental review of the land being used for these developments will be bypassed.

In California, the environmental review process could add extensive time to the completion of the project. In the event that the initiative is approved by the majority of the general public then the stadium development will take a huge step forward. It should be noted that the Chargers new stadium, under the details of this plan, would be attached to a new convention center for the city. Therefore, the vote will be for approval for both projects.

In an ironic twist, this initiative is the same procedural mechanism that the Chargers used to accelerate their stadium proposal in the LA suburb of Carson in order to “fast track” the land there in the race to LA with the Rams. Carson approved the measure, but the Chargers/Raiders joint proposal was voted down by the full league ownership panel in February.

I will outline the terms of the proposal, the “high points” and then to differentiate the other reporting on this topic, I will focus in on the potential issues with the proposal and the perspective of the parties involved in how this situation got to this point. A comparison will be made to the new stadium deal for the Chargers and what the agreement would look like if the team used the option to move to Los Angeles as a tenant in the Rams new stadium there.

Leaked Proposal

The proposal calls for the following in terms of the financing for the new stadium and convention center:

1. The San Diego Chargers will contribute $650 million to the development of the stadium (important note: the NFL contributes $100 million to any new stadium project and the Chargers will get an additional $100 million from the league as part of an incentive stay in San Diego that was granted to them when the NFL voted against their proposed move to Los Angeles)
2. The government will contribute $350 million to the development of the new stadium and will set up a Joint Public trust essentially to establish municipal ownership of the stadium. Translation: the city will own the stadium. The municipal government will also raise the $800 million for the new convention center.
3. The San Diego Chargers will get all stadium revenues for the 10 – 13 game days that they operate within the facility (includes preseason and playoffs).
4. The City will get all revenues from the rest of the events held at the stadium throughout the remainder of the year.
5. The Chargers will be responsible for all construction cost overruns that may occur.
6. The City of San Diego will finance their portion of the project through bonds and the increase of the hotel tourism tax which will increase from 12.5% to 16.5% this will be for the stadium and the convention center.
7. The increase in hotel tax will “sunset” after a period of 33 years. Then it will decrease to 13.5%
8. The stadium will have 65,000 seats and expected completion date is 2022

Some of that division of asset allocation is pretty standard in the stadium development deals. The construction overruns are usually covered by the team involved in these projects. In the current state of affairs in California where residents feel squeezed by high property taxes and increasing costs of living against flat wage increases, makes the public appetite for a tax increase to build a stadium a complete nonstarter. Therefore, the hotel tourism tax increase was the obvious pathway for both sides in this situation, the team and the politicians, to ensure the best chance for approval of the initiative.

Definite Issues

There are some definite issues with the proposal though which may be more readily discussed in the next few months. The most critical of all is the fact that the neither the Chargers nor the city own the land that the proposed stadium is supposed to occupy. In recent years similar arena or stadium proposals have faced that critical issue as well. In Seattle there is a struggle over land to build a new arena to attract an NBA or NHL team. In Sacramento, the Kings faced some of that push back in their quest for a new downtown facility. The most public dispute was in Brooklyn back when the Nets proposed the Barclays Center in the Atlantic Yards area and the local residents fought back. The government used imminent domain to push people off their property to build the arena.

The assumption could be drawn here that if the proposal has advanced to this stage that one or both parties involved has some kind of “inside track” on gaining the land for this potential use, but that is not always the case. In my view, a huge part of positioning a proposal for development is to make sure you have control of the land in the first place. However, the politics of the situation dictates that if they get this “ball rolling”, then the public will back them to gain control of the land, and that is the card that might be played in this case.

The second issue here is that the Chargers may not have the public approval sentiment necessary to get the citizens’ initiative passed successfully. The public perception of the team took a major negative blow when the team and their owners, the Spanos family, decided to pull up stakes and set their sights on moving to Los Angeles. Some residents feel that the team which has been based in San Diego since 1961 abandoned them for a better potential scenario in LA. The Spanos family now has to return to San Diego and gain a two-thirds majority in this ballot initiative to move forward with the stadium plan. That may not occur, which would set the stage for the team to either explore the longer route to the downtown stadium or exercise their option and move to Los Angeles in 2017.

In the event that the ballot initiative is successful, in fact, in the opinion of others regardless of whether it does or not – the politicians were always more in favor of the Mission Valley stadium proposal because the city owns that land. However, the attached convention center project with the stadium downtown being one component of a larger project which could benefit far more residents, could be the reason that this measure may gain approval.

Charged Up

The Chargers are viewing this situation in two ways: they have always favored the downtown site over the Mission Valley option, and they view the convention center being attached to new stadium as a way to compete with LA and other cities for Super Bowls and other large scale events.

That is a good segue to another point that was neglected from the leaked proposal yesterday: it does not state whether the stadium will have a roof or some kind of retractable cover to it. That type of feature adds a great deal of cost to a stadium development project, but it also enhances the functionality of the facility to be able to host political conventions, NCAA basketball Final Four, and other big revenue generating events.

The proposed new Rams stadium in Inglewood, CA will have a roof to be in consideration for just those sorts of events. The San Diego proposal should consider that design feature for the same rationale, however it could add around $200 million in estimated new costs to the project.

The Chargers, as was mentioned earlier, lost their bid to build a stadium in the LA suburbs, but they still have the opportunity to join the Rams in LA if they cannot get a long term stadium deal brokered in San Diego. The Chargers would be a tenant in the Inglewood stadium which means they would not have an equal share in all the revenues in that arrangement. They would essentially lease the building from the Rams and operate it on game days in that scenario.

Greed Wins

This is the main reason why I have maintained the belief that the Chargers are going to remain in San Diego and get the downtown stadium deal completed. In this agreement with San Diego, the NFL is subsidizing $200 million of the $650 million that the Chargers are contributing to the project. That means that the Spanos family will spend $450 million to get a $1 billion dollar new stadium that they will not have to share with any other team. The Chargers will reap all the football related revenue as well as the profits from any naming rights agreement to the stadium.

The Chargers will also remain in a market where they have established relationships with corporate sponsors and an established fan base of season ticket holders and they would not have to compete with another team for those audiences which they would have to in the event they moved to Los Angeles.

It comes down to greed. The reason why the Chargers will stay in San Diego if this deal gets approved is because they will not have to share revenues with anyone, and the city wants to keep the Chargers and have the new stadium and convention area to lure the Super Bowl and other big events back to San Diego. It is the same reason why the NFL approved the Rams ambitious new Inglewood colossal stadium and real estate venture: greed.

I am not a proponent of cities or counties paying for stadiums or arenas, I think the teams and the leagues involved should finance a portion of it and have private financing for the remainder. The Rams project, for what it is worth, will be fully privately financed. The City of San Diego wants to own the stadium though and has decided that is the right way for them to move forward. There is inherent risk in owning structures of that size and magnitude. That risk must be mitigated by the potential revenue return on the investment. In this case, the studies must have proven that out for San Diego to move ahead with this type of arrangement.

In the end, the November ballot measure will be the next big hurdle for this project to clear. Then, the land ownership piece will come into play. The stage could be set for the Chargers to remain in San Diego in a world class new stadium. The NFL will inevitably be the ultimate winner in that scenario, which I have reported about in the past, and it remains a valid point. Then, the league would just have to figure out what to do with the other team that whiffed on going to Los Angeles: the Raiders, but that is a whole other saga for another time. In the end analysis between the money and power of all of this politics is greed, the fans are used as pawns, in the end the pursuit of greed always wins.

Senate Rejects Anti-GMO Food Labeling Bill

In a landmark victory for the American consumer, the United States Senate voted on Wednesday to reject S-2609, a measure aimed at making the labeling of GMOs “voluntary” for food producers. This bill was also known by some consumer groups as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, and it represented a rare pushback by the Senate against big corporate interests such as Monsanto, who were trying to advance this measure into passage as the law.

This bill, S-2609, if passed, would have nullified the food labeling law approved in Vermont that requires the disclosure of genetically modified ingredients in all food products sold in that state (effective in July – see my previous article). The Senate cited the recent poll data that demonstrated that 9 of 10 Americans want GMOs to be labeled on food products. This bill (2609) was introduced by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and his response to the defeat of the measure was, and I am paraphrasing, that he presented a solution and that the opposition should present a solution to address this problem.

In fact, that is where this issue is headed in political terms, since the vote was so close and the votes are not there for cloture to be achieved, the debate is headed for a compromise version of the bill. In my view, after covering this issue for years now and having worked in the food industry, that compromise version is going to center on balancing the multiple components involved. The compromise bill will focus on the determination of a fair policy for the food producers, the farmers, and the consumer.

Opposition View

The contention by Senator Roberts regarding the absence of an opposition solution is also not a completely accurate statement. In March, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon proposed a separate bill which would make the labeling of GMO ingredients mandatory, but it gave food producers several options on how to disclose that information. I wrote a piece a few months back about the Campbell Soup Company decision to disclose the genetically engineered ingredients in all their products. The Merkley bill proposal was similar in that the food company had the option to put an asterisk by the ingredients that are modified and then put the following statement on the bottom of the label: “produced with genetic engineering”.

The debate can (and will) continue about a universal food labeling policy because it is needed to streamline costs. I have covered this topic previously in that as much as I agree with the law passed in Vermont and the ambition displayed there, we cannot have a system of interstate commerce where each state has their own individual food labeling laws. That will increase costs for the food producing companies and most likely those costs will be passed along to the consumer.

In general, I believe in the state level being able to mandate their own individual legislation, but in this scenario, a federal standard for food labeling of GMOs is needed. The big corporate interests such as Monsanto do not want to see that happen because it will be bad for their business, pure and simple. The bill, S-2609, was in some degree a misnomer, because it would make the labeling voluntary, which begs the question: what food companies would volunteer the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in their products? The answer is few to none.

The simple fact remains that an overwhelming majority of American consumers feel that they have the right to know what is in their food. That sentiment gave rise to the “right to know if it’s GMO” slogan used at several public rallies and on social media platforms. The political system is going to have to determine how it will mediate this situation to determine a solution that works for all parties involved.

Tip of the Iceberg

However, I believe, and others have echoed this sentiment in the media whether from the political side or from the strict viewpoint of regulatory controls over the industry; that this issue is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that the food labeling policy as it relates to genetically engineered ingredients or components is just one piece of a larger set of issues with regard to our food supply.

It is true that a good amount of momentum in this anti-GMO movement has come Gen – Xers and Millennials that are concerned about the health issues that have plagued our country in recent years: increases in the incidences of cancer, autoimmune diseases, autism, and diabetes just to name a few. There are some media reports of consumer groups made up of parents who are petitioning pediatricians throughout the U.S. to send a formal report to Congress regarding the negative effects of GMOs in food and the linkages to certain childhood illnesses.

The trend toward healthier eating and utilization of organic as well as locally raised or locally grown food products is one that I have covered extensively in the past. It is certainly a contributing factor in the decision of the Senate with regard to the “DARK” Act this week. These are the types of issues I am referring to with regard to an entire food industry related set of legislation to make some needed reforms to help better inform the consumer when making food purchasing choices.

The country of origin being disclosed on products is another whole area in regards to food labeling that could be addressed. The issues regarding where our food is actually coming from has been a challenge for Congressional legislation for some time now. It makes sense that if the public is passionate about what ingredients are in a particular product, they would also care strongly about where the product came from.

The issue of organic food scale up is another topic that could use some form of policy solution. The crops and seed for certain staple food products have been genetically engineered by big corporations like Monsanto and Dow Chemical for years. I am currently researching an article on the effects of Monsanto’s Roundup product on soil and agricultural use which has been linked by the World Health Organization to be a carcinogen. The ability, or lack thereof, to scale up the amount of food needed to supply even part of the population with organic food is a huge problem.

Then, the whole issue of access to healthy and fresh food could be addressed by the government. I wrote an entire series of articles on food deserts in America back some time ago, and there are many problems still today with the inability for access to healthy food particularly in inner cities and in very rural areas. The USDA and other government agencies have discussed certain incentive programs to potentially remedy the situation, but they have no real impetus to take action without a Congressional mandate.

Finally, the whole topic of irrigation issues and water supply concerns with fracking and other wastewaters getting into our water table as well as the access for farming communities to water for their crops is another aspect of this subject area that could be explored through the legislative process.

No Longer In the “DARK”

In returning to the topic at hand, the defeat of this Senate bill and the solution presented as an alternative by Senator Merkley, which seems to not have the support to move forward anywhere either, a solution is needed. The compromise bill will be just that, a meeting in the middle. It will make the disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients mandatory for food producers but it will be done without the options in the Merkley bill, and probably entail something more visible on the product packaging than an asterisks.

The result of this vote demonstrated that when people are united in a cause, and this is one of the biggest issues facing the food industry, then the people are heard. We, the consumers, have a right to know what is in the food we eat and we have a right to make informed decisions based on what that information provided to us yields. We have the “right to know if it’s GMO” and the Senate heard that loud and clear, and more importantly they listened. What is left in the weeks to come is for a law that is universal, that makes sense, and that provides the consumer with the information disclosed in a clear manner. I hope the Senate will listen and will provide the public with that legislation, the results from this week give me some degree of confidence that they will do so.

The presence of genetically engineered ingredients in our food is a reality. The issue at hand is how we are going to better inform ourselves as consumers to the presence of these ingredients. This disclosure will raise awareness levels further to the widespread utilization of GMOs in our food supply. The discourse should then shift into a measurable action plan to scale up alternatives that are GMO-free. The stage is set for some landmark changes to potentially take place.

In the event that you are reading this and did not have an active position on this important issue, I encourage you to inform yourselves to do so. The presence of GMOs in food has consequences to us and to our children and to future generations. We have the obligation to make sure our policies provide alternatives and education so that all consumers have access to accurate information in the future.

Left Out of L.A. – The Future of the Raiders & Chargers

The recent decision by the NFL ownership to allow the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles has left two franchises, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, with uncertainty regarding their future in either of those markets. It is rather unusual for a multi-billion dollar entity such as the NFL to have such instability with their franchises, let alone with two of them in the same geographic region.

The Raiders and Chargers also bid to move to Los Angeles in a joint project for a new stadium proposed in Carson, California; this measure was defeated by a resounding vote of the full ownership panel of the NFL. However, as part of the Rams winning bid to gain the foothold into LA, the Chargers have a full calendar year to determine if they will join the Rams in their stadium in Inglewood.

The Chargers have an agreement where they will play the upcoming 2016 season in San Diego and could move to LA in 2017 because they struck a tenant agreement with the Rams. However, many NFL insiders think that it is unlikely that the Chargers would want to move to LA under that deal because they will not be entitled to the full revenues available in the terms of that tenant arrangement.

The Chargers are focusing their efforts on securing a long term stadium solution in San Diego which is anything but a sure bet. The people in San Diego are rather upset (understandably so) at the Chargers ownership for their willingness to move the team to Los Angeles. Both the Chargers and the city politicians are harnessing their energy on passing a citizen’s initiative which is a mechanism in California which allows for the public to vote in a combined measure over the new stadium and the land involved in that project. If the measure successfully passes the public vote, the lengthy environmental review process is voided.

It should be noted that this procedure was the same technique used by Dean Spanos and the Chargers management in gaining a faster approval process for the land in Carson for the proposed stadium there in the “race to LA”. It circumvents the rather cumbersome and time consuming environmental review which could delay the land for a stadium site for development for years.

The stadium quest between the Chargers and the San Diego politicians has revolved around a couple of central issues over the past fifteen years. The first issue is the location of the stadium and the second issue is the funding for the project. When you consider that those are the two main issues to moving a stadium construction forward that is why the two sides have remained in limbo for a decade and a half.

The condensed version of each issue can be summed up in this way. First, the location of the stadium has revolved mainly around two areas of San Diego (I do not believe that the team was ever going to move to the suburbs – that was strictly a tool for leverage by the Spanos family) and both sides have disagreed over that stadium location. The two areas proposed in this situation are: Mission Valley and downtown San Diego.

The essence of the situation regarding the site proposals is that the politicians favored the Chargers build a stadium on the same site in Mission Valley where the current stadium is located. The Spanos family favored the downtown site and wanted similar concessions to those given by the politicians to the Padres ownership when they built the downtown baseball stadium now known as Petco Park.

The second issue is the funding for the site and for many years the Spanos family was trying to gain public dollars for the stadium project by requesting that the politicians attach the new stadium proposal to the measure to renovate the convention center downtown. The politicians refused to combine the two proposals and felt that essentially the family had billions of dollars and should foot the bill for the stadium. The politicians also wanted the stadium in Mission Valley so that stalemate continued for years.

The current situation is still pretty messy. The Chargers formally announced their proposal for a downtown stadium adjoining the convention center site last week. The politicians responded with their rationale behind why they believe the Mission Valley site is a better fit for all sides. The main issue is that the land that the Chargers would need to fulfill the downtown project is not owned by either party in this scenario. The costs, the risks, and the potential for public approval are all significantly greater with the downtown proposal because of the purchase of the land and the associated legal costs. The financing for that endeavor becomes tricky because the public has to vote by a two-thirds majority to approve any ballot initiative that includes a tax increase. The public support may not be there for this project which will set back the entire time frame of getting the stadium built.

Meanwhile, the Mission Valley site is where both the city and the county proposed a $1.1 billion stadium project on land that is city owned. The viewpoint of the city officials is that this project site will provide a smoother and more cost effective option to development of a new stadium. The Chargers, according to ESPN and other news outlets, have been working with JMI which is the same real estate developer that helped the Padres develop Petco Park.

According to JMI they estimate that the cost of the expansion of the convention center and the new football stadium downtown to be at around $1.4 billion. In a move to push back against the city and county officials, JMI claims that the cost to develop both sites, the convention center and the Mission Valley stadium would cost the city close to $1.8 billion dollars for two separate, stand-alone buildings.

The Chargers are pushing for the downtown site for two reasons: better access points for fans and the inclusion of the convention center and the other areas surrounding it in the downtown Gas Lamp district would provide for a great setting for the Super Bowl and other large scale events. The Chargers know that to keep the franchise in San Diego they need to be able to compete with Los Angeles for those big events, and a new stadium in Mission Valley will not achieve that objective. The public vote in November is the next big hurdle in this scenario.

Out of Oakland?

The Oakland Raiders have also been left without a long term solution for a place to call home for their franchise. They did just agree to a new stadium lease that allows them to keep playing in Oakland Coliseum until another arrangement can be made.

The team owner, Mark Davis, has explored relocation to San Antonio and has just met with officials in Las Vegas recently as well. The main issue with remaining in Oakland is that the city and county have basically zero money to allocate for the stadium project and the public appetite towards public finance of a stadium in any form, whether it comes from an increase in a hotel tax or via another mechanism, is not very likely at this point.

Davis has scaled back his proposals to Oakland with the last proposal seeking land for a smaller venue that was more intimate for fans. The Oakland politicians are concerned about the viability of any project because they also feel pressure from Major League Baseball to figure out a new stadium solution for the A’s.

The developers in Oakland had once pitched the Coliseum City project which would have encompassed 800 acres and included new stadiums for both teams. That proposal, which you can read plenty about if you wish because many news outlets in the Bay Area covered it extensively, died out and is no longer an option.

In all my research and in covering both the NFL’s “race to LA” and the Raiders and Chargers over the years, I just do not see a way for the Raiders to stay in Oakland. I also thought they had a slim chance of going to LA because of the grudge that the NFL owners have for the Davis family built over years of hostilities.

Conversely, I have had a gut feeling over the years that the Chargers could wind up staying in San Diego. The community there is very supportive of the team and they have built a history there spanning decades. It is a great city for the Super Bowl because of the climate and location, but it needs an upgraded stadium to host that event in the future. I think that the Chargers could end up making it work there with the downtown site.

In the event that the Chargers and the San Diego officials cannot make it work, then I think the Raiders have a chance of going there next year if the Chargers leave for Los Angeles (they have a one year option to do so). The Raiders could end up going to San Diego and leveraging the city and county into a new stadium once the Chargers have moved on.

The San Antonio option for the Raiders is interesting because Mark Davis owns land halfway between San Antonio and Austin where he could build a stadium and take advantage of a rapidly growing area in football crazy Texas. However, the political NFL reality is that it is unlikely that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones or Houston Texans owner Bob McNair would vote to approve such a move. They are both powerful owners with friendships with other owners, so Davis probably faces a steep hurdle to gaining approval for that endeavor.

The Las Vegas option is interesting and could gain some traction. The Raiders had discussions there regarding a new project that potentially would build a domed stadium on land on the Vegas Strip for a facility that would be shared by the UNLV football team and an NFL team and cost close around $1 billion. The big casino and hotel resort owners are backing the project because they see the potential for that investment to be paid off by having new visitors who would otherwise not come to Las Vegas. This new untapped customer base could be worth a significant return in hotel rooms and additional tourist dollars for having a stadium capable of hosting large scale events.

Mark Davis came away impressed and called Las Vegas “a global city” so that is speaking directly to the league office which has sought different ways to grow the NFL internationally in recent years (i.e. games played in London, Canada, and Mexico). That is a subtle play by Davis to try to leverage that sentiment from the owners for a potential relocation bid.

In my view, I would be surprised if the Chargers left San Diego at this point, unless the whole thing falls apart with the public financing for the downtown site, because even if the team could play in a bigger market in L.A. they would be sharing that market with the Rams. Furthermore, the Rams will have had a full year in the L.A. market and have gained all the top sponsorships. The Chargers would be a tenant in L.A. and stand to make less on the ancillary revenue streams due to that type of arrangement; where by staying in San Diego they are the only team in the market and they would have their own stadium with full access to more revenue streams.

The situation bears watching as it is very fluid in the case of both franchises involved. The end game will be that both Oakland and San Diego work with the teams to keep them in those markets, or two new cities will be on the NFL map in the future.