It’s been 20 years since an NFL team has played in Los Angeles, California. And the National Football League is looking to end that streak. There are a few teams in the mix to possibly move to L.A.
One of them is the St. Louis Rams.
In 1994, after almost 50 years playing in L.A, and in the same year the late Al Davis moved the Raiders back to Oakland, the late Rams’ owner Georgia Frontiere was able to move the Rams to St. Louis. But it came with controversy. The NFL did not want the Rams to move away from Los Angeles, and the executives did not believe St. Louis was not a suitable home for an NFL team.
Frontiere, who passed away at the age of 80 in 2008, threatened to sue the NFL if they did not approve the move, and they obliged, with a condition both sides agreed to: a provision that stipulated at the end of the 2014 season, the Edward Jones Dome had to be among the top-tier NFL stadiums (top 20%). If not, they (the Rams) could break their lease and move wherever they wanted to. It’s 2014, and the Dome is nowhere near the top-tier of NFL stadiums. Last year, the Rams wanted a $700 million dollar renovation project done on the Dome, but the city rejected the proposal.
Add all of this together, and it’s understandable why the Rams are the on the top of the list to potentially move back to their former home.
But does Los Angeles deserve to have the Rams’ back? Have they been convincing enough that they want another team?
In 2002, the NFL was looking to add another team to even the league out at 32. One of the cities possible for an expansion team was Los Angeles. But when NFL executives went to L.A, they were disappointed and frustrated to find that no construction or plans had begun for a new stadium for the potentially new team. The league decided to move on, and award the expansion franchise to Houston, Texas, who hadn’t had a team since the Oilers left in the mid-1990’s. The expansion team award to Houston was named the Houston Texans, and they remain there to this day.
Logically, moving the Rams to L.A would make sense money-wise, since it’s a multi-billion dollar industry having a team in that city. But even if they (or any team) were to move there, who is to say they would shome games? The three teams considered to move are the Chargers, Raiders, and Rams. Neither of those teams have had success in years (although the Chargers made the playoffs this year, and were contenders in the AFC four years ago).
L.A over the past two decades have not done much to prove they deserve another NFL team. Yes, it may be the second biggest market in the country (behind New York); the issue is, at one point in history, Los Angeles has had both the Rams and Raiders, but as the years wore on, fan interest began to fall, games became more and more blacked out, and despite their best efforts, money became harder to generate for the team.
Even the legendary running back Eric Dickerson, who set the NFL single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984, expressed displeasure at L.A possibly getting another team.
“First of all, L.A. don’t deserve a team,” Dickerson said. “They ain’t gonna support it.”
In 1984, the Rams went 10-6 and made the playoffs. That season Dickerson set the single-season record. And the Los Angeles Rams drew fewer than 50,000 fans to four of the eight home games that year, in a stadium that seated 66,000. HALF of their home games had fewer than 50,000. In a city five times as large as St. Louis. In that same year, the average NFL home game attendance 59,811 a game, 2nd highest in history at the time. By the time they moved in 1994, they were ranked dead last in attendance.
The NFL and Roger Goodell, the commissioner, continue to lobby to get a team to play in Los Angeles. Currently, a stadium that could seat 72,000 people, sponsored by Farmer’s Insurance ( named “Farmer’s Field”), is being planned for construction next to the Staples Center. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 billion dollars to build. Unfortunately for the city, construction has not begun, although the plans for the stadium have been approved. They hope that fan interest will be a lot higher than it had been during the last two decades of the Los Angeles Rams’ existence.
There is even a Facebook page, which is now up to 24,000+ likes, that are trying to get the Rams back in L.A.
In St. Louis, fans have endured nine years’ worth of losing records, poor coaching, and embarrassing losses, and yet still have their heads held high in hopes of the future, which, for the first time since 2003, is starting to look bright.
St. Louis may be a baseball town, but this city has a loyal football fan-base that has endured a lot of losing since the Greatest Show on Turf ended over a decade ago. This team, however, is on the rise. They are one of the youngest teams in the league, and are led by a veteran coach in Jeff Fisher who knows how to turn around struggling teams. The defense, led by Robert Quinn and Chris Long, has gotten better over the years, and pieces on offense are finally starting to come together. Games haven’t been blocked out in St. Louis in quite awhile (when at one point during this decade-long losing streak, they were blocked out weekly), and interest in the team within St. Louis is on the rise.
Despite everything listed above, and all of the ensuing controversy, the Rams currently don’t have interest in moving back to L.A.
However, the debate rages on between the NFL, Los Angeles and St. Louis as to what to do with the Rams (or an NFL team in Southern California in general). An intense debate which won’t end anytime soon.
The battle to keep the Rams in St. Louis is in full force.