With the Super Bowl upon us, it’s only natural that Los Angeles football fans would be excited about any rumors of an NFL franchise headed their way. The city – which has played host to seven Super Bowls, including the first – is currently the largest US market without an NFL franchise.
Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that there is not a timetable to place a team in LA, the NFL has made no secret over the years of its desire to have a Los Angeles football team. LA has been without a professional team since the end of the 1994 season, when the Rams left for St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland.
The Rams called Los Angeles home from 1946 – when they moved there from Cleveland – until 1994.
Los Angeles football fans may have a reason for cautious optimism, according to an LA Times report. The Times reports that Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, recently purchased a 60-acre lot in Inglewood, Calif. The lot is likely too small to accommodate the parking space needed for an NFL stadium, but it abuts property which some speculate could be purchased to provide space.
Neither the St. Louis Rams organization nor Kroenke has not made a public statement about moving the Rams. According to ESPN-LA, the Kroenke group had this to say about the recent land purchase:
“While we can confirm media reports that we recently purchased land in Inglewood, as a private company we don’t typically discuss our plans for commercial or residential investments. We have yet to decide what we are going to do with the property but we will look at all options, as we do with all our properties.”
The franchise will be eligible to exercise an escape clause of their contract with St. Louis in 2015 unless the city provides sufficient upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome to make it one of the NFL’s eight best venues.
Some have speculated that the land purchase may be Kroenke’s way of giving himself leverage to negotiate with St. Louis. The Rams have asked for $700 million in renovations to their current home stadium. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission’s proposed improvements came with a much more modest $124 million price tag.
If Kroenke is just dangling the prospect of a Los Angeles football club to get some movement from St. Louis officials, it wouldn’t be the first time the city was used that way. The Bengals, Seahawks and Buccaneers have all used the prospect of moving to L.A. to help seal deals for new stadiums in recent years.
For his part, Commissioner Goodell has cautioned against reading too much into the land purchase. According to The Sporting News, Goodell said:
“As you know our policy is they do have to keep us informed of any developments or anything that is going on in the Los Angeles market. Stan is a very large developer on a global basis. He has land throughout the country and throughout the world. He has kept us informed of it, we’re aware of it. There are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development. Any kind of stadium development requires multiple votes of the membership. He has billions of dollars of projects that are going on around the country of real estate development, so I think instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what’s necessary to continue to support the fans locally, which the fans have done in St. Louis, and make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market.”
Before the St. Louis Rams could move, Kroenke would need to demonstrate having made a good faith effort to work towards keeping the team in the city. He would also need approval from at least three-fourths of NFL owners.
Still, for a football-starved city, even a faint glimmer of hope is better than nothing.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below. Will the Rams move back to LA? Will we see a different Los Angeles football team in the NFL?