NFL’s Rams Coming Back to Southern California
By Burt Carey
The Rams are moving back to Los Angeles. The Chargers might join them. And the Raiders will remain in Oakland.
NFL owners voted 30-2 Tuesday on a lucrative relocation plan that returns the Rams to LA
this year from St. Louis, where the team has played for the past 21 seasons since leaving Southern California in 1995. The league’s owners granted the San Diego Chargers a one-year option of joining the Rams and playing in a proposed $1.8 billion stadium in Inglewood.
Owners were given two options to consider. One was the Rams/Chargers plan in Inglewood. The other option was a combination of the Chargers and Raiders playing in a new stadium in Carson. Owners rejected the latter proposal.
The move is the first for the NFL since the Houston Oilers left Texas in 1997 to become the Tennessee Titans in Nashville and returns football’s highest professional level to the nation’s second largest television audience.
“Relocation is a painful process,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “It’s painful for the fans, the communities, the teams, for the league in general. Stability is something that we’ve taken a great deal of pride in and in some ways a bittersweet moment because we were unsuccessful in being able to get the kind of facilities that we wanted to get done in their home markets.”
“Today, with the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “We cannot wait to welcome the Rams, and perhaps others soon, as they join a storied lineup of professional franchises, collegiate powerhouses, and sports media companies.”
St. Louis had proposed building a new $1.1 billion riverfront stadium along the Mississippi River to replace Edward Jones Stadium and keep the Rams in the Midwest. Team owner Stan Kroenke wasn’t swayed and continued to push for the Rams to return to Los Angeles, where the team played for 48 years.
San Diego is slated to vote in June on a bid to provide $350 million of public funding toward a stadium to replace Qualcomm Stadium. That issue holds the only hope San Diegoans have of keeping the Chargers from moving to Inglewood, although media reports indicate Chargers ownership and the city have been less than civil toward one another.
Goodell said the league would provide $100 million toward new stadiums to both the Chargers and Raiders should they stay in their current cities.
“I will be working over the next several weeks to explore these options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers,” said Dean Spanos, the team’s owner.
Both the Raiders and Chargers have previously called Los Angeles home. The Los Angeles Chargers were part of the American Football League when it was founded in 1960. They moved to San Diego in 1961. And the Raiders departed Oakland to play in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994, and then returned to Oakland.
The Raiders dropped their request to move following the owners’ decision and will reportedly work with Oakland officials to build new playing facilities there. They currently share a stadium with Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, and city officials are reluctant to use taxpayer funding to build new facilities.
The Los Angeles Coliseum will be the Rams’ temporary home field until the new Inglewood stadium opens in 2019. It is home to the USC Trojans, and officials say it would also be possible to host a second NFL team if the Chargers decide to move north.