01/15/16 by Matthew S. Vandriak
On Christmas Eve 1994 Los Angeles lost not one, but two NFL teams as the Raiders moved to Oakland and the Rams packed their bags for St. Louis. Now 21 years later, professional football is heading back to LA as NFL owners approved the Rams relocating back. It's an exciting time for football fans in Los Angeles, for the Rams ownership group, and for the NFL and the rest of it's owners. But it's a difficult time for fans in St. Louis, as for the second time, they're watching their NFL team leave town.
From a financial standpoint, the NFL couldn't keep using Los Angeles as a decoy market. Anytime a team needed a new stadium or some type of public funding, the potential of that team moving to LA always came up. But the revenue the NFL was losing by not having a team in Los Angeles was real. It's the second largest market in the United States. On top of that, the other revenue outside of football and the media market is huge. The naming rights for the new proposed stadium in Inglewood is expected to be the highest amount ever paid for stadium naming rights. The stadium is expected to be a huge draw for concerts, international soccer matches, college bowl games, and other events. It's a place to host future Super Bowls and all that comes with that. There's even talk of creating a West wing of the NFL Hall of Fame on the campus of the new LA stadium. All of that revenue potential is far more than anything that could've been generated in St. Louis.
Owners voted 30 to 2 to approve the Rams move immediately. The new Inglewood facility won't be open until 2019, so the Rams will play their first 3 seasons at the LA Coliseum. The approval of this plan eliminates the plan that would've had the Chargers move from San Diego and the Raiders move from Oakland to share a new facility in Carson, California. There is still a chance the Chargers will move to LA and share the Inglewood facility with the Rams. If they choose to stay in San Diego, the Raiders will have the choice to move to LA and share the facility. Raiders ownership has rescinded their application to move and are reportedly looking into new stadium options to keep the team in Oakland.
But while it's an exciting time for Los Angeles and the NFL fans there, it's a sad time in St. Louis for their fans, the city itself, and their leaders. St. Louis mayor Francis Slay said the NFL ignored the facts by allowing the relocation to happen. Slay said the league ignored the loyalty of St. Louis fans who supported the team through up and down years, and ignored a $1.1 billion dollar plan to build a new facility for the Rams along the city's riverfront. And just like when the Cardinals moved to Phoenix in 1988, St. Louis will be without a professional football team again. And since this is the first time the NFL has relocated a franchise since the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997, and since there are no plans for expansion anytime soon, there is a slim to none chance the NFL will be back there ever again.
In the end though, Rams owner Stan Kroenke said the opportunity to take the team to Los Angeles was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In the end loyalty and sentiment didn't matter. In the end, the NFL and it's owners did what they always seem to do. They followed the money.
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