On Tuesday, Jan. 12 the NFL, along with its 32 league owners, voted 30-2 in favor of the St. Louis Rams returning to Los Angeles, the city they were originally conceived in 1946 and inhabited until 1994.
The move is groundbreaking.
For years the National Football League has toyed with the idea of relocating at least one of its franchises. But which one?
Could it be the Rams – a franchise trapped in a baseball city that is no stranger to losing its football team? The St. Louis football Cardinals bolted for Phoenix in 1987. A return to L.A. would spark a return to the team’s glory days when Eric Dickerson was running the league.
How about the Raiders, who are playing on one-year leases in a baseball stadium? Wouldn’t a return to the smash mouth L.A. Raiders of the eighties and nineties spark the franchise?
Then there are the Chargers. Watching their team’s games, fans can see how empty Qualcomm Stadium has become.
While the Rams, Raiders and Chargers were the leading candidates to be relocated, a handful of other options have been thrown out there in recent years. The Jaguars to London? That’s why we’re playing all those games there right? Were the Bills close to relocating a couple years ago before being purchased by the Pegula family in 2014? Was San Antonio an option for a team? How many teams could go to Los Angeles? Where would they play?
All of this has led to nothing but confusion for the league as the notion of sending a team to the City of Dreams became nothing but a distant dream.
But Tuesday was a revelation. It was clarity.
The St. Louis Rams are going back to Los Angeles. The Oakland Raiders will not be going to L.A., at least for now. The Chargers have one year to join the Rams. The Bolts can reach an agreement with Rams owner Stan Kroenke to share a proposed stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
Back in St. Louis, fans are losing another football team. But contrary to the city’s Cardinals back in the eighties, these Rams have been special to the city. The team delivered a Super Bowl championship back in 1999 and nearly another one in 2001. The team had its share of star players – Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce to name a few.
The team has seemed promising the past couple years. With a stout defense and the addition of rookie running back Todd Gurley, it seemed like they can turn the ailing franchise around – just not in St. Louis. The move will certainly leave some pain behind.
While the city has always been a baseball town, losing the Rams will hurt the original fan base. But the move to Los Angeles absolutely provides new opportunities – better funding and a bigger appeal for free agents to sign with the team are the biggest two.
Los Angeles is ready for a team.
Look at how the city treats the Lakers and Dodgers. The NFL is ready for the move; ground has already been broken on a new stadium before Tuesday’s news.
The move is huge, but it might not be complete. As we await the Chargers’ decision, at least we know one thing: football is heading back to Los Angeles, and it’s about to be bigger than ever.
David Heim is a senior journalism major from Roselle Park, N.J. He can be reached at david.heim@ student.shu.edu or on Twitter @davidheim12.