It’s official! Start practicing saying it right, Angelenos! The ‘Los Angeles Rams’ are back home.
The NFL owners approved the relocation (uh, the return) of the Rams to Los Angeles Tuesday to be effective immediately. The team can and will play their 2016 season in the Los Angeles area which is expected to be in the Los Angeles Coliseum until the new stadium is built and ready for the 2019 season in Inglewood, California (not to be confused by outsiders with Englewood, Colorado where the Broncos play) roughly only seven miles Los Angeles’ LAX airport.
The owners voted 30-2 in Houston, considerably more than the 24 votes needed. The two-team-at-once proposal set for the Carson, California location that was rumored to be popular with the owners and ‘picking up steam’ as late as Monday evening was shot down in an earlier vote and new ideas were discussed from there. In the end, the Chargers were given first option to join the Rams in Inglewood and will have until the conclusion of the owners meetings (March 20-23) to decide if they’re playing in Los Angeles or San Diego in 2016, up to one year to decide to move at all. San Diego will be hosting a June vote for the approval of $350 million in public funding toward a new facility to replace current Qualcomm Stadium. The Oakland Raiders, after Mike Davis withdrew the Raiders application to work with the owners to get things done, can still take advantage of the same one year window given to them as the second option to choose Los Angeles and accompany the Rams should the Chargers decline. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also announced that the league will provide $100 million to both the Chargers and Raiders if they remain in their current home markets.
— Robert Gauthier (@rgaut999) January 13, 2016
What the move means for the city of Los Angeles, and what potential new fans should know.
First of all, the Rams belong here and should not have moved in the first place, so high praise to the NFL owners for getting it right. The team played in the Los Angeles area for 48 years before moving to St. Louis prior to the 1995 season. As posted by losangelesrams(dot)org, “the Los Angeles Rams were at one point one of the most storied franchises in the National Football League, the pride and joy of Southern California…In 1971, longtime owner and pioneer of professional sports in California Dan Reeves passed. Robert Irsay purchased the Rams from the Reeves family estate, and in a pre-negotiated deal, traded the franchise to Baltimore Colts owner Caroll Rosenbloom. Under Rosenbloom, the Los Angeles Rams would embark on their most successful period in franchise history.” Most current and long-time Rams fans remember Rosenbloom as one of the premier NFL owners, and the team flourished under him. It wasn’t until he passed in April 1979 and his majority-owning wife, later known as Georgia Frontiere — ex night-club singer and chorus line performer with aspirations of becoming an opera star — fired her husband’s son who had been groomed to take over the team (and, as some would tell it, ran the team into the ground in order to relocate ala the storyline behind the movie, Major League) that the Rams no longer dominated their division and began losing both their fans and the respect Mr. Rosenbloom had continued and built upon. The height of that previous era came in 1976 when the (9-7) underdog Rams made it all the way to Super Bowl XIV to face the powerhouse Terry Bradshaw-led (12-4) Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which they hung close (even lead) for three quarters only to error late and falter 31-19. Rams fans that go back that far (like myself) can still remember the respect the team had earned in that bowl game played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California with a crowd that still holds the record for attendance for a Super Bowl at 103,985. Ironically, the Rams get the green light to move back to Los Angeles practically on the 8th anniversary of Georgia’s death, January 2008, age 80.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke project, in association with the owners of Hollywood Park and the city of Inglewood, will include a stadium of up to 80,000 seats and a performance venue of up to 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access. It will create thousands of jobs and help continue the revitalization of a community that has struggled for many years.
To this writer, it is especially meaningful. A great number of my childhood memories stem from my expert thoroughbred horse racing handicapping father’s teachings at Hollywood Park. Its destruction was devastating to me, but football’s my first love…so Stan, you are forgiven.