The St. Louis Rams have faced rumors of relocation to Los Angeles for months, but now the city's leaders have passed a measure that could end up keeping the team in Missouri.
Amid growing speculation that the Rams will be one of the likely two teams moving to Los Angeles for next season, the city's board of aldermen just passed a critical measure to finance a new stadium in St. Louis. A new stadium has been a stumbling block to the team staying, and while the vote means no guarantee of a place in St. Louis, it could go a long way toward keeping the team.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has voted 17-10 to pass financing of potential new stadium on north riverfront. #STLNFL
— Nicholas J.C. Pistor (@nickpistor) December 18, 2015
Does not guarantee Kroenke keeps team in St. Louis, but is a significant step in the city's effort. https://t.co/MbqUWnnJchSources say that the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders are all expected to file for relocation applications. As ESPN reported, the St. Louis Rams were at one point rumored to be a top candidate for relocation.
— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) December 19, 2015
"It's hard to imagine the NFL shutting down the San Diego market, but the NFL is determined to move at least one, if not two teams to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, and the Chargers and Rams are thought to be the clear-cut top-two candidates."The NFL may be preparing for the relocation as well. The league schedule the final home games for both the Rams and Chargers in Week 15, and the Raiders play their final home game next week.
Despite the reports, there is still plenty of doubt as to whether the St. Louis Rams would relocate. The Los Angeles Times noted how the city has taken great measures to keep the team, and the commitment of public funding could give the league pause about moving them out of town.
"The Rams potentially would be walking away from a significant amount of public money, and the NFL is not in the habit of doing that," the report noted.
The Rams also have a disadvantage in owner Stan Kroenke, who has been transparent about his desire to move to the Los Angeles area. He has purchased land in nearby Inglewood and already drawn up a stadium proposal. This has irked many of the league's other owners, the Times reported.
Kroenke would already be behind, as there are reportedly a handful of owners who are against any relocation. One of these could be Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula, who purchased the team in 2014 amid rumors that it could be moved to Toronto. Pegula was steadfast in his vow to keep the team in Buffalo, and may not be supportive of another team leaving its city and fanbase behind for Los Angeles.
There are other rumors that the St. Louis Rams are falling behind in the plans to relocate. NFL owners will be meeting in January to discuss relocation, and Kroenke still doesn't have a partner for the Inglewood project, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Chargers owner Dean Spanos has reportedly balked at partnering with Kroenke, and instead appears to be working with Raiders owner Mark Davis. It could end up leaving Kroenke's stadium proposal out in the cold.
There was doubt even among owners that the Rams have what it takes to gain approval.
"St. Louis, they have come up with a proposal that is getting pretty close, in my opinion, to being an attractive proposal," Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told the Houston Chronicle. "And if they do come up with an attractive proposal, then in my view, my personal opinion, I don't think the Rams will receive the approval to relocate."
The St. Louis Rams rumors will likely come clear within the next month. Owners are set to meet the second week in January to discuss relocation, and a decision is likely to be made by then.
[Picture by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images]