After a 21-year vacation, it looks like the Rams are heading back to Los Angeles. NFL owners voted 30-2 in favor of the former St. Louis franchise setting up shop in Inglewood. The plan is in place now and the team is set to move in 2017, once the new stadium is built. They will play their home games at the LA Memorial Collesium this year, home of the USC Trojans, for the time being.
While the Rams are celebrating, the Chargers still have a lot of work to do if they want to move. There is an option for the Chargers to join the Rams in Inglewood in 2017 and there are still some rumblings about a new stadium in Carson as well. It is still looking good for the Bolts to be LA bound too, which is important because their stadium lease is up.
On the other hand, the Raiders seem to be screwed. Their proposal to move back to Los Angeles was rejected by the owners and the team seems like it will have to stay in Oakland. However, Raider czar Mark Davis indicated that the team will do everything it can to leave. Rumor has it that a San Antonio site could be pursued. As of right now, the Raiders do not have a place to play their home games. Their lease for their current stadium is up and Davis seems determined not to renew it. Apparently they are next in line for LA if the Chargers pass, but that doesn’t seem too likely.
So why all of the push to move? Well part of it is because money talks. Teams think that they can turn a big profit in Los Angeles with all of the fans that are hungry for football. To me though, this isn’t just about money.
All of these franchises are in the midst of average or below average seasons. None of them have won a Super Bowl since back in 1999, when the Rams took home the Lombardi Trophy thanks to the Greatest Show on Turf. It seems like these teams just want a fresh start. A chance to start over and see what they can build.
For the Rams, it means moving to a big market from a small market. Not many players want to settle down in quiet old St. Louis, Missouri. It is not glamorous by any means, even if it is a great place to live. The Rams suddenly have an opportunity to draw attention of players seeking the spotlight. St. Louis also tends to be a smaller market dominated by baseball. With the Rams failing to make the postseason during the last 11 seasons, it is not easy to command respect in the fan base.
The Chargers seem to be in a slightly different boat. San Diego wants to move into the more prominent light of California. For years, despite all of the Raiders struggles, San Diego has failed to win over the state. The 49ers commanded all of the respect and had most of the support of California fans. Between five Lombardi Trophies and all of the big names, think Rice, Montana, Young, Walsh and Lott, San Fran definitely has the better history. San Diego had Dan Fouts, but many view him as a poor man’s Dan Marino. They also had Kellen Winslow and Lance Alworth, but those guys don’t quite match the mystique of those famed Niners. Even now as the 49ers seem to be in rebuild mode, the Raiders look like a serious playoff contender for the first time in a decade. San Diego just can’t seem to catch a break. They will add another one soon (Tomlinson), but either way, this is about turning the page in the franchise’s history and making the team more popular. Not for the sake of attracting players, more for appealing to fans.
Meanwhile, the Raiders don’t seem to care where they move to, as long as they don’t stay in Oakland. I don’t know why but it seems like the Davis family just does not want to be there. Al Davis, Mark’s father, moved the team to Los Angeles during the 80s, leaving Oakland then too. This has nothing to do with money if you ask me. The Raiders just want to start over. They are building a good young team and they seem to want to leave their past behind them. This organization’s last 10 years was a joke. From drafting Jamarcus Russell to firing Hue Jackson after an 8-8 season, there are some bad memories. Relationships with the local government don’t seem to be great the Raiders would prefer to play in a football specific stadium, rather than share with the Athletics. San Antonio could be a likely spot; I’ve even heard some far-fetched rumors that the team could fill the Rams spot in St. Louis. This is all about escaping Oakland for the Raiders.
All of the cards have yet to completely shake out regarding relocation but for these three franchises, a move represents a lot more than just an increase in potential revenue and new fans in the seats. This is a chance to start fresh.