The St. Louis Rams might be a thing of the past in short order. St. Louis, which has enjoyed having an NFL franchise since 1995 when the Rams came to town, will potentially be without one after next season. According to Arash Markazi of ESPN, Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build a stadium in Los Angeles after purchasing 60 acres of land in Inglewood, Calif. last year.
Kroenke has reportedly partnered with owners of the adjacent Hollywood Park site to help secure a stadium. If everything goes to plan, the 298-acre site at Hollywood Park would involve a multitude of developments including an 80,000 seat stadium. Any team, namely the Rams, would likely not be able to move into the venue until 2018 considering construction timelines. However, they could be brought back to Los Angeles and play at a temporary site until the new building is complete.
Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since 1994 when the Raiders and Rams both left town. The city was notorious for failing to support its teams, leading to the Rams moving to Anaheim in 1979 before bolting for St. Louis in 1995. The Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and played at the L.A. Coliseum in front of a half-empty venue before Al Davis returned to Oakland after 13 seasons.
Kroenke has been rumored to have his eye on Los Angeles for some time, with St. Louis failing to support the struggling team for years. The Rams were thriving in St. Louis in terms of attendance during the turn of the century when Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were blowing out the bulbs on the scoreboard. However, things have gone south over the past decade and the Edward Jones Dome is no longer a suitable stadium for Kroenke and the Rams. With the glitz of the City of Angels looming, it appears only a matter of time before the second-largest market in the United States has an NFL team again.
So, is the Rams returning to Los Angeles a great idea? From the league’s standpoint, having a team in Los Angeles instead of St. Louis is a win. The marketing is much more lucrative and the city is an important foothold on the West Coast. For Kroenke, it also makes plenty of sense. Getting into Los Angeles is a great get, even for somebody who has more money than he knows what to do with.
All that said, Los Angeles has never been a great sports city. When its teams are good like the Lakers or Kings during their golden ages, the Staples Center is packed to capacity. When the teams are struggling, interest immediately moves elsewhere. If the Rams are an awful franchise for a stretch, will the new stadium be half-empty with people writing columns and doing video packages about how embarrassing the city’s fan base is?
Even if the team is good, will people show after the luster of a new stadium has worn off? The Raiders were always competitive during their tenure in Los Angeles, and the fans never bothered to show.
It seems a team will finally be moving back to Los Angeles. Whether it receives long-term support is another question.