The Rams are returning to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, more than 20 years after they left the city to make St. Louis their home.
The decision was announced late Tuesday by the NFL after a 30-2 vote by team owners in Houston. The Rams will eventually play at a nearly $3 billion facility being developed by Stan Kroenke, the team’s owner, in nearby Inglewood that is projected to be completed in 2019.
“This has been the most difficult process of my professional career,” Kroenke said in a statement. “While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet.”
But that’s not the only news for NFL fans in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest media market after New York. After having no NFL team for 21 years, it may suddenly have two. The San Diego Chargers have a one-year option to decide if they want to join the Rams. NFL.com reports they have until the end of the owners meeting (March 20-23) to decide on where they will play this year.
The Oakland Raiders, who had also looked to move to LA, withdrew their application Tuesday. Instead, they said, they will work with the NFL toward a solution for a new stadium. NFL.com adds they have a one-year option to join the Rams in Inglewood if the Chargers don’t.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said Tuesday the league would give $100 million to the Chargers and Raiders if they stay in San Diego and Oakland, respectively.
“I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers,” Dean Spanos, the team’s owner, said in a statement.
Negotiations with the city have been tense, as reflected by a statement from San Diego’s mayor:
The Raiders, in their statement, said they “will now turn our attention to exploring all options to find a permanent stadium solution.” The reaction from the city was more positive, with Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeting:
2/6 ... and the NFL to build a new home for the team in OAK. We recognize the Raiders have been understandably frustrated over the years...— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) January 13, 2016
3/6 so we're excited to have this chance to rededicate ourselves to getting a deal done that works for the team/NFL/our fans/our taxpayers.— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) January 13, 2016
4/6 We remain confident that the Raiders can build a new stadium in Oakland without a direct public subsidy...— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) January 13, 2016
6/6 Goodnight #RaiderNation, members of the media, and all who are eagerly awaiting a resolution on this. Back to work tomorrow.— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) January 13, 2016
In Los Angeles, reaction was jubilant, with Mayor Eric Garcetti calling the decision“confirmation that this is a town that nobody can afford to pass up.”
In St. Louis, the mood was less cheerful.
“The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium,” Mayor Francis Slay said in a statement.
The Rams are the second NFL team to leave the city. The Cardinals left for Phoenix in 1988.
Here’s more from the L.A. Times on what the Inglewood facility will look like:
The stadium will have identical locker rooms, offices and owner’s suites for two teams. There will be 70,240 seats and the capacity can be expanded to add 30,000 people in standing-room-only areas for large events.
The venue, set 100 feet into the ground and with a 175-foot above-ground profile, and developers hope to host such indoor events as college basketball’s Final Four, the NFL Pro Bowl and scouting combine in addition to conventions and award shows.
The design calls for a roof with metal borders and an area over the playing field made of a transparent material called ETFE, which is as clear as a car windshield and believed to be strong enough to support the weight of a vehicle.
The stadium would be open on the sides, allowing breezes to flow through and enhance the outdoor feel.
Until 2019, when the new stadium is projected to be completed, the Rams are expected to play at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, the Times adds.
The Houston Oilers were the last NFL team to relocate; they moved to Nashville in 1997.