HOUSTON -- The first NFL franchise to play in Los Angeles is going back to its former home.
After a whirlwind Tuesday, the St. Louis Rams turned back into the Los Angeles Rams when the league's owners voted 30-2 to approve the team's move. The Rams called Los Angeles home from 1946 to 1995 before moving to St. Louis. Now, they’re heading back for the foreseeable future.
The San Diego Chargers, another team that once called L.A. home, will have the option to join the Rams in owner Stan Kroenke’s $1.86 billion Inglewood project.
And with that, there’s joy in Los Angeles and sadness in St. Louis and San Diego.
It was a long, painstaking process that lasted more than two years but has once again left St. Louis without professional football while returning it to the league’s second-largest market.
What it means for the Rams: Rams owner Stan Kroenke set the wheels in motion for the league’s return to Los Angeles more than two years ago when he purchased nearly 300 acres in Hollywood Park. After two years of California dreaming, Kroenke’s deep pockets and determination to move made that reverie come true. The Rams will realize an instant and drastic increase in their franchise value upon landing in Los Angeles. It also means a few seasons of transition playing in temporary venues until Kroenke's Inglewood palace is built.
What about St. Louis? For the second time, St. Louis has lost its football franchise. The question now becomes whether the city will ever get another one. Adding the Rams to the list of former St. Louis football franchises, alongside the Cardinals, could make the city less palatable in the eyes of the NFL. It seems like a long shot that the NFL would return, but it’d be silly to rule out the possibility of it happening eventually. In fact, the league will now need some city to serve as the leverage for the next group of teams that want to build a new stadium. The stadium proposal currently on the table has an expiration date but it’s possible it could be revived down the road. Either way, this is a dark day for St. Louis football fans.
What’s next? There’s a little less uncertainty for the Rams now that they know where they’ll be able to call home for the long term. The Rams won’t be able to simply pick up and move the entire operation in one fell swoop, so it’s likely the team will still operate out of its Earth City, Missouri, home for the next couple of months until it can set up shop elsewhere. The next step is to find a temporary home for the team's day-to-day business and practice facilities. Construction of the Inglewood stadium is also expected to pick up steam with a targeted opening of 2019. In the meantime, the team still has plenty of roster-related business to take care of as it prepares to head back to its old home.