Forgive us, NFL, for we have sinned. It’s been twenty-two years since we here in Los Angeles have had a professional football team. In 1994, we let our beloved-ish Rams drive away and resettle in St. Louis, Missouri, and have struggled with the football-shaped hole in our hearts ever since. (The Raiders heading north a few months later didn’t exactly help, either.) We’ve tried to replace our thirst for the contact sport by rooting for other California teams—like the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers—and arbitrarily watching each Super Bowl to judge the halftime shows in the past, but nothing has soothed our wandering souls. Now, in the ultimate proof of “if you love them, let them go” concept, the Los Angeles Rams (originally the Cleveland Rams) are returning to our fair city for the upcoming 2016 season.
Yesterday, presumably in their top-secret underground lair in Houston, nearly all of the current NFL team owners voted (30-2) to have the Rams leave St. Louis and return to Southern California. The deciding votes came on the third polling of the teams’ owners, which was held after the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders ownership all left the room; O, to have been a fly on that particularly well-appointed wall. The team will eventually settle in a brand-new, state-of-the-art Inglewood stadium (RIP Hollywood Park track), but until that $3 billion home is complete, they’ll head back to the Coliseum to take on other animal, people, and aircraft-named teams. Beyond ending a long-time debacle with this historical decision, the NFL has also extended a “one-year option” to the Chargers (whatever that is) to also relocate to LA once the new space is erected. If the Chargers decline to move, the Raiders will have the next shot to move back down the coast, which will totally not end the way it did last time.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was overjoyed with the decision, stating that the Rams returning is “confirmation that this is a town that nobody can afford to pass up. It also confirms our strategy over the past twenty years, as painful as it was, that you can bring a sports team without having to spend taxpayer money on it.” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, on the other hand, isn’t exactly thrilled with giving up the franchise, but stayed optimistic about the city: “St. Louis is great place to live and build a business—with or without NFL football.” Consider yourself Slayed, Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
Even with the immense support for the Rams heading back, LA’s next few years will be marked by growing pains, from the endless construction project to Sundays becoming another bad day on the hellscape that is the 405, but that is a small price to pay for getting some real skin in the pro-football league. And the large price to pay—that $3 billion price tag for our new stadium—will bring new jobs for the city as well as another place for massive artists and bands to play that’s not the Staples Center.
It’s hard not to feel a little bit bad for St. Louis, but we know how it feels! We’ve had these teams ripped from our city, too. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the country and we’re usually like the Noah’s Ark for sports—we’ve got multiples of hockey, baseball, and basketball teams—but we haven’t had a single football team for longer than some NFL players have been alive. It’s time for us to get off the bench and back onto the field (but let’s not worry about how we’ll water that field yet). Here’s to the newish adventure!
(via Los Angeles Times)