Following a vote from National Football League owners, the NFL’s St. Louis Rams have officially been approved to return to the greater Los Angeles area and will do so for the 2016 NFL season. The team had previously called Los Angeles ‘home’ from 1946-1994.
Rams owner, E. Stanley Kroenke, said:
This has been the most difficult process of my professional career. While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet. St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people. Being part of the group that brought the NFL back to St. Louis in 1995 is one of the proudest moments of my professional career. Reaching two Super Bowls and winning one are things all St. Louisans should always treasure.
While there understandably has been emotionally charged commentary regarding our motives and intentions, the speculation is not true and unfounded. I am a Missouri native named after two St. Louis sports legends who I was fortunate enough to know on a personal level. This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will. No matter what anyone says, that will never change. This decision is about what is in the best long-term interests of the Rams organization and the National Football League. We have negotiated in good faith with the Regional Sports Authority for more than a decade trying to find a viable and sustainable solution. When it became apparent that we might not be able to reach an agreement, it was then and only then that we looked at alternatives.
We would like to thank the National Football League, its owners, and the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities for their diligence and dedication. We look forward to returning to Los Angeles and building a world-class NFL entertainment district in Inglewood.
The Rams could be joined by the Chargers, who have a one-year option to decide if they want to relocate and join the Rams in Inglewood.
According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the Chargers will have up until the conclusion of the owners meetings (March 20-23) to decide if they’re playing in L.A. or San Diego in 2016. The window creates the possibility – however slight – that the Chargers could remain in San Diego. The city is hosting a June vote for USD$350m in public funding toward a new facility to replace Qualcomm Stadium. It is possible that the Chargers will put off a final decision until that vote takes place.
The Raiders – the third team that had L.A. aspirations – withdrew their application for relocation on Tuesday and will work with the League toward a stadium solution, most likely in Oakland. If the Chargers do not exercise their option to move to Los Angeles, the Raiders will have a one-year option to join the Rams in Inglewood.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during a Tuesday night news conference that the league will provide USD$100m to both the Chargers and the Raiders if they remain in their current home markets.
Image courtesy: St. Louis Rams