Rams charge back to Los Angeles

It’s official. Owner Stan Kroenke’s proposal for a Los Angeles relocation was passed in a 30-2 vote by the 32 owners, allowing the Rams to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. The Rams originated in Cleveland in the 1930s but spent the majority of the franchise’s history in Los Angeles, playing in the city from 1946-1994. The Rams left Los Angeles during the same year as the Raiders, 1994, leaving L.A. without a football team for 21 years. The current proposal, which includes a plan for a state-of-the-art stadium in Inglewood, California, also allows for the San Diego Chargers to join the Rams in Los Angeles.

In St. Louis, the Rams captured their first Super Bowl victory, in the 1999 season, but were more often mired in mediocrity. They haven’t finished above .500 or reached the playoffs since 2004 while failing to fill the void at quarterback after Kurt Warner left.  The Rams routinely upset better opponents like the Seahawks and Cardinals and have talent on both sides of the ball- defensive tackle Aaron Donald and defensive end Chris Long in the pass rush and a generational talent in running back Todd Gurley on offense. Head coach Jeff Fisher, whose Titans team lost to the Rams in the Super Bowl, was retained for another season despite missing the playoffs in all four of his seasons with the team.

The Los Angeles market is a step up from the Rams’ former home of St. Louis, which ranked dead-last in attendance this year and near the bottom in past years. With Los Angeles being the second-largest city in the United States and the second-biggest NFL market, its absence of a team was one of the most discussed issues over the past few years. Those talks intensified until the owners’ meeting in January, when it became apparent that the Rams’ proposal had the support of the other owners. The change to the Los Angeles Rams is effective immediately, with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the USC Trojans and multiple Super Bowls, a possible interim home.

The Oakland Raiders also presented a proposal for a stadium with the Chargers in Carson, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. For now, they’ll stay in Oakland and share their stadium with the city’s baseball team, the Oakland Athletics, while they work towards a new stadium in the area. The NFL has indicated that it would give up to $100 million for the new stadium, but the cost would totally exceed that number. If the Chargers turn the Rams’ offer down, the Raiders could move in with the Rams.

San Diego could very well lose its treasured football team. The Chargers played their inaugural season in 1960 in Los Angeles, but they moved to San Diego the next year and have stayed in the city since then. The need for a new stadium to replace Qualcomm Stadium leaves owner Dean Spanos looking north to Los Angeles, but the joint proposal with the Raiders fell through. If Spanos and the San Diego authority can’t reach terms on a deal, the Chargers could take up the Rams’ deal and move up to Los Angeles.

Of course, without a football team for 21 years, the Los Angeles market won’t be the most supportive or charismatic for the Rams and whichever team joins them. The profits will rocket, which was the reason the transition was made in the first place. From the looks of the stadium plans, a fantastic venue and possibly Super Bowls could follow. Welcome back, Los Angeles. For better or worse, you’re back on the football map.

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