Some have been making the argument that hell has frozen over but I’m not going to get that drastic. But last week’s events were pretty significant in the history of the National Football League. But after a 22-year exile, the NFL is returning to Los Angeles, California. It was a long and excruciating process, but the league was finally able to get a deal done after two decades of trying. Here is now it all went down….
It started when the St. Louis Rams (played in Los Angeles from 1946-1994), San Diego Chargers (played in L.A. during the first AFL season of 1960), and the Oakland Raiders (played in the City of Angels from 1982-1994) had all begun seeking new stadiums for their respective franchises. The Chargers had been playing in Qualcomm Stadium since 1967. There have been some modifications over the years, but over time “The Q” became antiquated by today’s NFL standards. The idea of renovating the former Jack Murphy Stadium had been floated around but didn’t gain much traction. The Chargers had also looked at the surrounding area’s of San Diego but kept getting turned away.
The Raiders were celebrated and revered when they returned to the Bay Area for the 1995 season. They originally left Oakland for Southern California because the late former owner Al Davis wanted more seats in the Oakland Coliseum to accommodate increased ticket demand. Davis didn’t get his way, so he took his team to the 93,000 seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1982. While the Raiders were a hit in Los Angeles, the Coliseum was so big that the Raiders were unable to meet the requirements of the NFL’s local television blackout rule on many occasions. The attendance issue combined with a growing lack of interest and having another franchise in the market (the Rams), put Davis in a tough spot.
Luckily for Davis and the Raiders, the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball worked with the City of Oakland to expand the Oakland Coliseum and bring the Raiders back. It worked as the Raiders returned to their original home, but it hasn’t led to much success. Since 1995, the Raiders have only made three playoff appearances and none since 2002. They’ve gone through 10 head coaches in that span, and ticket sales have declined over the last few years. There have been times where the Raiders have had to tarp off upper deck seats to avoid showing empty seats on television.
Al Davis died in 2011 and since then his son has taken over operations of the franchise. With the current woes of the franchise the Raiders have been actively seeking a new home in the hopes that they can return to their past glory. The Raiders had proposed multiple stadium sites in the Bay Area but those went nowhere. There was also chatter about them sharing Levi Stadium in Santa Clara with the San Francisco 49ers but that didn’t get too far either. Ultimately, the Raiders and Chargers came together and created their own stadium proposal.
The main issue effecting both teams is that they were seeking taxpayer dollars for so long but the State of California has long been hampered by economic struggle. As for the Rams, they left quite an impression on California before departing for the Midwest. They played in the L.A. Coliseum from 1946 to 1979 but moved to Anaheim Stadium in 1980. They moved for many reasons including the aforementioned difficulty to sell seats in the famed Olympic structure, and the fact that at one point in time they also shared the coliseum with the football teams from the University of Southern California and the University of California-Los Angeles. But eventually the Rams got tired of paying rent to the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball.
With the inability to find a home of their own in So Cal, Rams ownership took their business to St. Louis starting with the 1995 season. The Rams were quickly embraced upon their arrival in the Gateway City as St. Louis had been without a football team since 1988 after the Cardinals had moved to Arizona. St. Louis was good to the Rams in the early going as the team made five playoff appearances, won Super Bowl 34, three NFC West Championships, and two conference titles between 1999 and 2004. But the team has been mediocre at best since then. When current owner Stan Kroenke assumed control of the franchise in 2010 his goal has been to find a new stadium for the team.
Finding that new stadium in St. Louis –despite a proposal on the table– has been a source of friction between Kroenke and the City of St. Louis. So all three teams expressed their desires to relocate to Los Angeles but it wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight. NFL Commissioner Roger Godell has maintained that the NFL would only return to Los Angeles if two teams were to set up shop there. One team in the NFC and one team for the AFC. So last week, the NFL owners gathered to hear the proposals of all three teams on their relocation plans.
In the end the owners voted on the following: The Rams get to go back to L.A. with their new stadium to be built in Inglewood, California which is to open in 2019. Until then they will play in the old coliseum starting with the 2016 season. The Chargers have an option to join the Rams in the new venue, but the Raiders were essentially left out in the cold. But the Raiders, and the Chargers if they decline the option, will get $100 million from the NFL to put towards new stadiums of their own. Although other cities have already begun courting the Raiders for relocation.
But either way, this is good news for the City of L.A. for many reasons. Here are five reasons why this move will benefit more than just the NFL….
5. Los Angeles reclaims it’s place as the NFL’s second largest market.
Since 1995, Chicago has claimed that distinction behind New York which sits at number one. But now L.A. gets back into the fold which means big business not only for the league, but also for the city as a whole.
4. The City of Angels is no longer left out on Sunday afternoons between September and December.
For the last two decades the fans in L.A. have had to cheer for either the Raiders, Chargers, or 49ers. Their radios and televisions were tuned into these teams as they were the only options aside from local college football. But now, they once again have a team to call their own and ticket sales should be through the roof.
3. Another warm climate destination for NFL teams.
As the NFL calendar reaches November and December, teams from the colder parts of the country tend to hope for road trips to more “pleasant” destinations if you will. And it doesn’t get any better than Los Angeles with the weather (for the most part), Hollywood, and the tourist destinations, the list goes on and on.
2. The Economical Benefits
Los Angeles, and Inglewood in particular, are going to get a bunch of tourism money pumped into their economies. Not only will the new stadium be the home to the Rams, but there are plans to hold future Super Bowls, future Pro Bowls, perhaps a college football bowl game, and there’s even buzz about the Final Four being held in the new stadium. Lots of possibilities could mean lots of out of towners following their teams to Tinseltown. And then of course you’ll see a boost in traffic at sports bars, restaurants, and other business were sports are popular.
The big word that not too many people have mentioned yet. This will bring hundreds if not thousands of jobs to an area that currently has an unemployment rate of 5.3-percent. For starters, the Rams will need to hire construction workers to build their stadium. And eventually they’ll need to hire people for the day-to-day operations of the new structure (security, concessions, etc). This could also lead to the need for more police officers to patrol the area.
The media outlets in L.A. may also need to expand their forces as they’ll need to find reporters to cover the Rams. Not to mention the sponsorship opportunities that will exist.
So while the NFL may have it’s own agenda in Los Angeles, the city will also reap the rewards at the end of the day.
Image Source: Unionleader.com