Are the Rams Returning to the City of Angels?
I don’t want to get too excited about the Rams returning to Los Angeles because I really don’t like to count my proverbial chickens before they hatch and find myself with bitter disappointment.
But………Can it be? Are the Moons aligning? In the names of Merlin, Youngblood, Deacon, Crazy Legs and Roman, are the Rams beginning the process of moving back to Los Angeles?
At the moment, all signs seem to be pointing in that very direction.
Published reports from St. Louis and Los Angeles are abuzz with stories regarding the sale of the Rams and two possible sites in the greater Los Angeles area for a state-of-the-art NFL stadium.
In the “Gateway City”, writers from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believe St. Louis losing an NFL franchise for the second time seems inevitable while Bernie Miklasz of stltoday.com and ESPN Radio refuses to suggest such a notion even though he clearly sees the writing on the wall.
Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke wants full control of the franchise and is looking to purchase it from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. At issue, Kroenke owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The NFL has rules against cross-ownership of teams in other major U.S. sports leagues. Kroenke seems to be able to clear such hurdles by signing over controlling interests of his other major sports teams to other family members.
Kroenke, also, seems to be working with L.A. sports & entertainment big-wigs to get them back where they belong, LOS ANGELES.
Earlier this week, St. Louis Globe-Democrat columnist Howard Balzer wrote:
It turns out Kroenke is a member of the league’s Los Angeles Stadium Working Group committee. Roll that one around in your mind a few minutes. Everyone I mentioned that to Thursday was silent for a few seconds, and then said, “Oh, my God.”
It means Kroenke is privy to every detail, every plan, simply everything that is related to those trying to get a stadium built there.
Then on Thursday, Los Angeles Times columnist Sam Farmer wrote that businessmen Casey Wasserman, who owned the L.A. Avengers of the defunct Arena Football League, and AEG’s Tim Leiweke are considering a plan to build a privately funded stadium behind the Staples Center where the West Hall of the Convention Center currently sits. They tried this about eight years ago, but they backed out when the Coliseum Commission tried to make its own bid that, also, failed.
In a follow-up article from Saturday’s L.A. Times, Farmer added Wasserman and Leiweke want the proposed $1 billion stadium to have a retractable roof for use year round for a number of other events.
The stadium would complete the L.A. Live entertainment corridor that was envisioned by AEG when the Staples Center was first built. Of course, the stadium proposal would need to be approved by the City of Los Angeles because the convention center is owned by the city.
In the article, Farmer added:
What’s more, the downtown bid would put Wasserman and Leiweke in direct competition with developer Ed Roski, who already has an entitled and shovel-ready piece of land in City of Industry to build a football stadium. There is only room for one such project in the L.A. area, and the Industry group is at least a year ahead of any other because it has clearance to build.
Another problem exists with the NFL. The current collective bargaining agreement ends after next season. The league is trying to avoid a labor dispute and subsequent work-stoppage in 2011.
The sticking point, team owners want the players to help in paying off the huge stadium costs.
The new CBA will take at least a year to negotiate which means no stadium will be built or team will re-locate while the NFL takes care of its CBA. That’ll give Wasserman and Lewieke a year to catch up with Roski.
When the time comes, I think these two competing stadium teams might want to join forces and work together on one site to benefit the greater Los Angeles Area, the NFL, maybe the Rams, and, first and foremost, the long suffering Los Angeles Rams fans.
The Rams called Los Angeles home for 49 years before (gulp) Georgia Frontiere moved them to St. Louis in 1994 claiming Los Angeles wouldn’t support them because there was too much to do in Southern California other than watch football.
I said it then and I’ll say it now. HELLO! 49 YEARS! Needless to say, Georgia pulled a “Major League” getting a sweet money deal in St. Louis while still residing in Bel-Air.
The City of Angels could soon be celebrating the Rams 50th Anniversary in Los Angeles (16 years, and counting, in the making) with St. Louis losing its second NFL franchise. That doesn’t have to happen.
Here’s a thought. When the Rams move back to Los Angeles, how about moving the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars to St. Louis and re-naming them the Stallions. Wasn’t that the idea when the league expanded 16 years ago anyway?
As far as a second team in the new Los Angeles Stadium. Do you really think Chargers owner Alex Spanos will sit put in San Diego and play in an aging Qualcomm Stadium when he can move his team into a state-of-the-art play-pen back in its original home just up Interstate 5?