Getting Back With Your Ex
Could the Rams be going back to Los Angeles?
*This article originally appeared in the January 28th edition of Three Point Stance Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine visit https://3psmag.com/subscribe/
Twenty years ago the National Football League had two teams in Los Angeles, the countries second largest television market, now fast forward to 2015 and there appears to be a race to see which billionaire can move their franchise back to the City of Angels.
The leader in the clubhouse at this point appears that the St. Louis Rams could be heading back west to a brand spanking new facility in Ingelwood, California. Rams owner and Missouri native Stan Kroenke, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of over six billion dollars, announced on January 5th that the Kroenke Group was teaming up with Stockbridge Capital Group to build an 80,000 seat NFL stadium and multi-use venue southwest of downtown near LAX.
There has been no word of the Rams leaving, but the fact that Kroenke’s group is involved is speculation enough to draw attention. Not to be outdone, shortly after the word of the potential construction project surfaced, officials in St. Louis announced a $900 Million plan to build an open air stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Using other cities as leverage to get a new stadium deal done is old hat among professional franchises. Red McCombs publicly flirted with San Antonio before the Minneapolis area government chipped in to build the Vikings new stadium which is set to open in 2016 and host Super Bowl LII (52) a year later. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson also considered moving to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina, but later returned to the Superdome.
Since the Rams and Raiders bolted LA in 1995 there have been two franchise moves. In 1996 the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and the following season the Houston Oilers moved to Memphis for a season before settling on Nashville and being rebranded as the Titans. But for the better part of the last 18 years, there haven’t been tectonic shifts like we saw in the mid 90’s. Teams built and moved into new stadiums, most largely funded with public money keeping teams put. Seattle, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Arizona, Dallas, New York, Denver, Houston, Baltimore, New England, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Detroit have all opened new stadiums since 2000.
St. Louis though has had a storied pro football history and is no stranger to seeing franchises come and go throughout the years.
Violet Bidwell took over the Chicago Cardinals in 1947 when her husband Charles Bidwell died, she later moved the team to the Gateway City in 1960. Violet’s son Bill took over when she passed in 1964, and considered relocating to Atlanta, but kept the team in St. Louis with promises of building a new stadium. Busch Stadium hosted the team until the mid 80’s when poor attendance, a worn down stadium, and overall mediocrity forced the Bidwells to move. The Cardinals considered moves to Baltimore and Jacksonville before finally settling on Phoenix.
Five years later, with a new domed stadium in the works, it seemed like a given that St. Louis would be awarded an expansion team, but they were blindsided when Jacksonville instead was awarded an NFL franchise.
Enter Georgia Frontiere, whose husband Carroll Rosenbloom drowned in 1979, turning 70% ownership of the Rams over to her. After a decade and a half of partially filled and dilapidated stadiums in Los Angeles and Anaheim, Frontiere swindled a football hungry city with a sweet stadium deal that has now almost become obsolete.
After Frontiere’s death in 2008, Kroenke became majority of the owner of the Rams in 2010, and many believe the clock to move began ticking shortly thereafter.
While St. Louis has been left at the altar a few times, a move to Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the leagues agenda for what feels like forever.
The race to get to LA though seems to be a three horse race. The Oakland Raiders lease at the Oakland Coliseum was set to end at the end of the 2014 season, though a one year extension was agreed to in December, and the San Diego Chargers, who actually played in Los Angeles their first season in the AFL in 1960, have passively been rumored to head up I-5.
No team will be in Los Angeles in 2015, but if these stadium plans by Kroenke and the Stockbridge Capital Group come to fruition, 2017 or 2018 could be conceivable options.