Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, Universal Studios and Chaz Bono, now has its own professional football team once again.
A vote last week among NFL owners rendered the final nail in the coffin for St. Louis fans; their Rams will relocate to Los Angeles for the immediate 2016 season.
For owner Stan Kroenke, the 30-2 decision serves as a victory to return his team to their previous home. It’s been 21 years since the Rams played their last game in Los Angeles, in which time Kroenke has repeatedly criticized the economic and fan support put forward by St. Louis and will now cough up $550 million in order to leave the city.
Waiting for him, however, is one of the largest entertainment markets in the country and enticing plans for an alluring new $1.8 billion dollar stadium located in Inglewood, 10 miles from downtown L.A. Until the completion of the stadium in 2019, the Rams will make their home in the L.A. Coliseum.
The narrative is thrilling and nostalgic for former Los Angeles Rams fans—who claimed the team for the majority of its existence—but is far more somber for St. Louis fans, victims of yet another NFL team to jumped ship on the city.
In 1988, the St. Louis Cardinals (yes there was an NFL team called that too) left and relocated in Arizona. Now, despite the city’s proposal for a new $1.1 billion dollar stadium along the Mississippi River, St. Louis fans are left in the same position as they were almost thirty-years ago.
The city has long been at odds with Kroenke and the NFL. Last Wednesday, Mayor Francis Slay spoke out saying, “At this point I’m so frustrated and disappointed with the NFL.”
Slay went on to call the league “dishonest” and added that he has no desires to re-involve himself with the NFL.
Kroenke’s feud with the city and its fans has continued despite the team’s departure. In an interview with the LA Times Kroenke stated that he wasn’t going to, “sit there and be a victim.”
However the move is not unlike many before it, leaving fans and taxpayers as the true victims.
The city and county will be forced to pay off bonds used to fund the stadium until 2021, but will do so without a team to cheer for. Instead, they’re left only with the memory of four winning seasons and one Super Bowl in the team’s tenure in St. Louis.
Fans in San Diego and Oakland may have reason to fear the same fate. Although the state of California will undoubtedly welcome its fourth NFL franchise in the near future, Commissioner Roger Goodell also gave the San Diego Chargers the option to jointly join the Rams in L.A.
The team has one year to accept the offer, which would then be passed to the Raiders should San Diego decline. Both teams were additionally granted a $100 million dollar incentive to build new stadiums in their current locations.
Only the coming months however, will prove whether or not the incentive money is enough to draw owner’s eyes away from the glamorous Los Angeles market. The league is about dollars and cents, and they will do anything to further their product.
The near future will also indicate whether the Rams’ move is a good one. Los Angeles undeniably offers economic opportunities, but it also carries its fair share of baggage. The results had in St. Louis will far from satisfy Los Angeles fans who have been spoiled over the years with the success of teams like the Lakers and Kings.
The fans, after all, they are the true life-blood of the league (whether they be in the seats or on the couch).
It’s time now for Stan Kroenke to deliver his new fans with a product that will succeed beyond the balance sheet.
Cover Photo Credit: Emmanuel_D Photography/Flickr (CC by 2.0).