Posts Tagged ‘NFL Relocation’

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday presented three options for renovating Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, but the team said it’s not interested.

Lightfoot proposed fully enclosing the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome; rebuilding both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome-ready; or modifying Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer.

“Any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

The mayor’s office estimated the costs of the three options would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion. It did not say how it would pay for any of the options.

The proposed renovations would expand seating from 61,500 seats (now the lowest capacity in the NFL) up to 70,000; increase the number of suites from 133 to 140; and quadruple concession area square footage from 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters), the mayor’s office said.

The Bears had no new comment on Lightfoot’s proposals but the team reiterated the same statement it issued July 7 when a panel appointed by Lightfoot recommended the city explore enclosing Soldier Field.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract,” that statement said.

The team signed a purchase agreement last year for a 326-acre (131.93-hectare) site in suburban Arlington Heights, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) miles northwest of Soldier Field, that could be the site of a future stadium. President Ted Phillips has said that deal likely won’t close until early 2023, at which point the team will decide whether it’s “financially feasible to try to develop it further.”

The Washington Commanders have bought land in Woodbridge, Virginia, for what could be a potential site of the NFL team’s next stadium, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the team had not announced the acquisition. The Commanders paid approximately $100 million for 200 acres of land in Prince William County and are still considering other locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the person said.

This site is just over 20 miles outside D.C., about a 45-minute drive from RFK Stadium, which was the team’s home from 1961-1996. The Commanders’ current lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, expires in 2027.

ESPN, which first reported the sale, added that the site is the team’s preferred choice for a 60,000-seat domed stadium that would be available for use year-round and include a practice facility and amphitheater. Building a stadium that could host a Super Bowl has long been considered one of the organization’s goals.

Owner Dan Snyder and Co. have been looking at several possible sites in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, though the specter of investigations into the team’s finances clouded how those jurisdictions might handle helping him finance a stadium.

The Maryland House last month approved a $400 million plan to develop the area around FedEx Field that did not include money for a new stadium. Virginia lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would make it favorable for the Commanders to build their next stadium there.

The NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke has agreed to pay $790m to settle a 2017 lawsuit over the team’s relocation from St Louis to Los Angeles.

“This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process,” read a joint statement from St Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St Louis County Executive Sam Page.

According to multiple reports, the agreement does not include a promise from the NFL for a future expansion team in St Louis.

It is not clear how much of the settlement will be paid by Kroenke, who relocated the team in 2016, and how much by the league’s 31 other teams. Kroenke also owns Premier League club Arsenal.

St Louis officials said they have not yet determined how the settlement funds will be used.

Attorneys for Kroenke and the NFL were in St Louis for a mediation session on Tuesday with lawyers representing St Louis, St Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.

The lawsuit was seeking more than $1 billion and argued that the NFL broke its own relocation guidelines and that the Rams misled the public on their plans to leave the city, costing St Louis millions in revenue.

A trial date had been set for 10 January.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz dismissed speculation of the Buffalo Bills relocating if a deal can’t be negotiated for public funds to pay for the construction of a new stadium.

Poloncarz, however, did issue a warning on Wednesday by saying the state and county won’t be writing what he called “a blank check,” to pay for what is projected to cost at least a $1 billion.

“We will get a deal done,” he said in speaking the most extensively on the stadium issue since negotiations began two months ago. “It’s just got to be a fair deal for all.”

Poloncarz did not go into specifics on the proposed cost of the project to replace the Bills current facility, which opened in 1973, and controlled by the state and county. He focused most of his comments on fears raised over the team potentially relocating, which surfaced following a report on the status of talks in The Buffalo News on Sunday.

“I want the public to understand there’s been no gun put to the head of Erie County and New York state stating, `If you do not do this, we are moving,’” he said. “I want people to understand negotiations are a long process. … A negotiation takes time. It takes compromise on both sides.”

The Bills opened talks after determining they are in need of a new stadium to be located near their existing facility in suburban Buffalo — though a downtown facility has not yet been entirely ruled out.

The Bills current lease expires in July 2023, and after the state and county committed $227 million toward extensive renovations and annual capital and game-day expenses in 2013.

Further structural repairs and modern-day upgrades are necessary, which in 2014 were estimated to cost $540 million.

The past lease was negotiated by Poloncarz and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and involved Bills Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March 2014. This time, the talks involve new owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the Bills for a then NFL-record $1.4 billion, and also own the NHL Buffalo Sabres.

The Pegulas are also seeking public money to upgrade the Sabres’ downtown arena, but those discussions have been put off and are separate from the Bills.

Though premature to discuss, the prospect of the Bills relocating is not entirely out of the question based on recent NFL history. The Raiders relocated to Las Vegas last year after failing to secure enough public funds to build a stand-alone football stadium in Oakland, California.

Similar issues led to both the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams relocating to Los Angeles over the past decade.

Wilson, who founded the Bills in Buffalo in 1960 as part of the upstart American Football League, was a long-time advocate against franchise relocation. He cemented that reputation by signing off on a strict non-relocation clause in the team’s most recent lease at a time there were concerns an outside buyer would purchase the Bills and move them to Toronto.

Current negotiations could become complicated as a result of Cuomo’s uncertain status as governor after the results of an investigation, released Tuesday, found he sexually harassed at least 11 women. Should he not heed numerous calls to resign, Cuomo could face impeachment proceedings.

Cuomo has been an advocate for keeping the Bills in Buffalo in part because of the tax dollars they generate in being the only NFL franchise based in New York.

Bills backers are encouraged in knowing the person next in line to replace Cuomo would be Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is from Buffalo.

Hochul on Tuesday said, “We’re not feeling threatened,” when asked about the possibility of the Bills relocating. “We’re having conversations with the organization. We’re going to get the result this community needs,” she added.

Poloncarz, who has called for Cuomo to resign, said the governor’s status shouldn’t have an immediate impact on stadium talks because Cuomo hasn’t been involved directly in talks, with the state being represented by legal and consulting teams.

“I do feel that the players in place right now can still move ahead regardless of what’s happening in Albany,” Poloncarz said, referring to the state capital. “If the governor is then Kathy Hochul, I do know Kathy Hochul wants to ensure the Bills stay in Buffalo.”

Chicago Bears icon Mike Ditka hopes the franchise avoids a move to nearby Arlington Heights and remains in the Windy City.

“The Chicago Bears belong in the city of Chicago,” the Hall of Famer told Jim O’Donnell of The Daily Herald. “That’s it. Call me an old-timer, call me a traditionalist, whatever. They’re a Chicago institution and that should be the end of it.”

The Bears have been stationed in Chicago for nearly their entire 100-year history and have played downtown at Soldier Field since the 1970s. They recently submitted a bid to purchase Arlington International Racecourse – which sits roughly 40 minutes northwest of downtown Chicago – with intentions to construct a new stadium.

While Soldier Field is one of the most iconic stadiums in North American professional sports, it’s also one of the oldest. Soldier Field opened its doors in 1924 and last underwent significant renovations in 2003.

“Just like the Bears belong in Chicago, like coach (George) Halas had it, Arlington Park should remain a racetrack,” Ditka said. “It’s a gem, a thing of beauty. Arlington Heights is known around the world because of that racetrack. Racetrack in Arlington Heights, Bears in Chicago. That’s the end of it.”

Ditka played tight end for the Bears in the 1960s when the team was housed at Wrigley Field. He also coached the team from 1982-1992, leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl championship. Ditka became the first player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame purely as a tight end.

The 81-year-old also believes the Bears belong in an outdoor stadium rather than in a venue with a roof.

“You want to tell me that a team coming up from a warm-weather climate isn’t giving away a significant advantage to try and play in cold and rain outside in a Chicago December or January?” he said.

“You can’t practice for that kind of weather. You can’t simulate it. You’ve got to be in it. Chicago Bears football weather is a great part of the team’s legacy, and all of that legacy in Chicago in my life has been outdoors.”

Stadium negotiations between the city of Chicago and the Bears are getting personal.

Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips announced Thursday that the team recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, located 30 miles west of Soldier Field.

“It’s our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization and its future,” Phillips said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the move is “clearly a negotiating tactic.”

“The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033. In addition, this announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“As a season-ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team. And, like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally, and being relevant past October. Everything else is noise.”

Soldier Field opened in 1924. It underwent a 20-month modernization renovation that concluded in 2003.

Myles Garrett believes the 2021 Cleveland Browns defense is poised to give a lot of opposing quarterbacks some sleepless nights.

“I think we can do a lot. I don’t know what we’re doing in the draft, that’s all up to (the general manager),” Garrett said, according to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.

“But with the pieces we have now, I think we’ll be very scary, so I’m looking forward to it. Getting on the field, taking the ball away and putting it back in our offense’s hands, and them getting the ball back for us.”

Cleveland has been very active in free agency this offseason, focusing primarily on the defensive side of the ball. The club’s most recent splash was signing pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

Pairing Clowney and Garrett gives the Browns two former No. 1 overall picks on the edge. Garrett shared his excitement for his new teammate’s arrival and offered a glowing review of his capabilities.

“I know everyone else is looking forward to it, and so am I,” Garrett noted.

“I know the guy is aggressive, really gets after it and he has a motor, keeps attacking, plays the run well, and (is) a good pass rusher. He’s an athletic specimen like someone I know on the Browns, so it will be fun. It really will.”

Clowney wasn’t Cleveland’s only addition to its revamped defense. The club also brought in pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley and defensive backs John Johnson and Troy Hill to bolster the unit.

The Browns’ defense finished 21st in points allowed last season and registered 38 sacks, with Garrett being responsible for 12.

The Detroit Lions are trading star quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for two future first-round picks, a third-round selection, and quarterback Jared Goff, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Rams will send over their 2022 and 2023 first-round selection as well as their third-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft.

The trade cannot become official until the start of the league year on March 17.

The 32-year-old requested a trade from the franchise following the 2020 season. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is parting with 2016 first overall pick Goff after not committing to him following the team’s divisional-round exit.

Stafford and the Lions go their separate ways after 12 years. Detroit selected the former Georgia product with the first overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Stafford leaves the Lions as the franchise’s all-time leader in virtually every passing statistic: Yards (45,109), touchdowns (282), (6,224) attempts, and (3,898) completions.

Meanwhile, Goff reunites with former Rams executive and Detroit’s new general manager Brad Holmes. The former Cal passer will also work under first-year head coach Dan Campbell next season.

Los Angeles will inherit the two years, $43 million remaining on Stafford’s current contract, while the Lions will carry a $17.8 million dead cap hit in 2021, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.

Detroit will also take on Goff’s $106.6 million contract after he signed an extension in 2019.

Multiple teams reportedly offered first-round picks in the upcoming draft, but the quarterback swap along with pick compensation provided both teams with the trade package they desired.

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A federal judge dismissed the City of Oakland’s lawsuit against the Raiders, the NFL, and the league’s other 31 owners tied to the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, according to Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit, filed in 2018, was an attempt to recover financial losses due to the Raiders leaving the city and vacating Oakland Coliseum.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the Northern District of California said the damages in question aren’t eligible for compensation under the Clayton Act.

In the lawsuit, Oakland also argued that the NFL could support 42 teams, but in his decision Thursday, Spero said the city couldn’t prove it was harmed by the league allowing only 32 teams.

The Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was approved via a 31-1 vote by the owners in 2017. The team is scheduled to play in the $2.5-billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium this season.

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Rumors about changes at the Las Vegas Raiders‘ quarterback position in 2020 became stronger after a photo of team owner Mark Davis and free-agent QB Tom Brady at a UFC event went viral last weekend.

But quarterback Derek Carr isn’t making that connection.

“I mean, there was a lot of quarterbacks at that fight,” Carr said, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “And there was a lot of football players at that fight that are free agents. And it’s like, every time, with my job, it’s always a story. No matter what.

“And knowing some people that were around, I even know what the conversation was (between Davis and Brady), and it’s like, ‘C’mon, man, when’s it going to end?'”

Instead, Carr expressed his excitement to start a fresh campaign with the Raiders entering a brand new $2-billion stadium, saying he looks “forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out – until I’m done.”

The Raiders officially announced their relocation to Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The AFC West club finished its last season in Oakland with a 7-9 record, missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year.