In one of the biggest realignments in NFL history, the St. Louis Rams received permission to relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, with the San Diego Chargers also receiving permission and the Oakland Raiders passing on a move — for now.
It has been a power tussle supreme amongst NFL owners to decide on a return of pro football to Los Angeles, the United States’ second-largest media market and a center for the American entertainment industry. It was a compromise that came after several votes, only when Raiders owner Mark Davis withdrew his application for relocation.
The Rams would probably begin play in the Los Angeles Coliseum immediately while a new Inglewood stadium is built for the 2019 season. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has grand plans for the new Inglewood stadium, to be located at the old Hollywood Park horse-racing track site: the price tag could approach $3 billion for the new facility, which would be the centerpiece of a larger residential/retail development that could refine a sporting venue for the future. Per the Los Angeles Times:
The stadium will have identical locker rooms, offices and owner’s suites for two teams. There will be 70,240 seats that can be expanded to add an extra 30,000 people in standing-room-only areas for large events.
One NFL owner called the project “transformational.”
The sleek venue, set 100 feet into the ground and with a 175-foot above-ground profile, is expected to host indoor events such 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 yet strong enough to support the weight of a vehicle. The stadium would be open on the sides, allowing breezes to flow through the building and enhance the outdoor feel.
Though most media insiders had owners split between a new Rams stadium and a joint Chargers-Raiders stadium in Carson, owners went 30-2 in favor of the Rams/Chargers relocation.
The move of the Chargers to Los Angeles is not a sure deal. The team has up to a year to negotiate a new stadium in San Diego, as well as $100 million from the NFL for a new stadium, but the team could also end up moving to Los Angeles and sharing the Coliseum until the new Inglewood stadium is completed, but the Chargers could also end up playing at Angel Stadium, Dodger Stadium or the Rose Bowl, depending on what the University of Southern California, which controls the Coliseum, does. (Rams owner Stan Kroenke says the Chargers can share the new stadium as an investor or a tenant.) If, in January 2017, the Chargers pass on a move to Los Angeles, the Raiders would then have the option to move to a new Inglewood stadium. The final result happened rather quickly when you consider the years of negotiating on the subject, and Chargers owner Dean Spanos was vague about what his plans were for a team and whether negotiations would resume with San Diego on a new stadium:
In a press conference Tuesday night, Chargers owner Dean Spanos wouldn’t commit to reviving negotiations with San Diego officials.
“I’m going to look at all our options,” he said. “It’s very difficult to say ‘I’m going to do this or do that,'” he said….
“My goal from the start of this process was to create the options necessary to safeguard the future of the Chargers franchise while respecting the will of my fellow NFL owners,” he said. “I will be working over the next several weeks to explore these options we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers.”
For the Raiders, it’s back to the negotiating table for a new stadium, probably at the O.co Coliseum site. Like the Chargers, the Raiders received $100 million from the NFL for use toward a new stadium in Oakland, while also receiving the option to move to Los Angeles should the Chargers demur.
For St. Louis, the announced move would appear to close the door on a proposed $1.1-billion downtown stadium designed to keep the Rams in town — a move that didn’t sit too well with locals politicos, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
St. Louis leaders expressed disappointment.
“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,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in a statement.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger also responded: “As a football fan and a lifetime resident of the St. Louis area, I am bitterly disappointed in tonight’s news. This region deserves an NFL team. This region is fully capable of supporting an NFL team.”