29 January 2012

Are the St. Louis Rams gearing up for a return to Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis after the 1994 NFL season as their desires for a new stadium in Southern California were not met while they were met in the Gateway City. The Raiders moved back to Oakland only a few months later, leaving the nation's second biggest city without an NFL franchise.

Now it appears that the Rams may be getting ready to potentially leave St. Louis with the logical destination being none other than their former home of the City of Angels. Here is what is causing speculation to why they may move back.

The Rams suffered from poor on-field play and poor attendance in their last few years in Los Angeles. And now after the team has failed to finish .500 since 2004, the same thing is happening in St. Louis. The team has been struggling on the field and the fans are starting to stay at home as blackouts have increased and the attendance has dropped, the second lowest in 2011.

What really started up Rams back to L.A. speculation was when it was reported as a legitimate concern for Jeff Fisher when he was choosing between the Rams and the Miami Dolphins (he ended up choosing the Rams). As was reported at the time, the Rams can exit St. Louis after 2014 if the Edward Jones Dome if it is not among the top quarter of stadia league-wide (by whatever reasoning it is not). That also gives some time for a stadium to be built in Los Angeles, whether that be the Ed Roski project in City of Industry (which my money is on) or on Farmers Field (Jason Cole has a strong article on the stadium battle here).

Also greasing the wheels on a Rams return to L.A. is the news that owner Stan Kroenke is in the mix to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers. NFL cross-ownership rules state that an owner of a team is not allowed to own a team in a different sport if that person owns teams in a different NFL city. For now Kroenke is in the clear as obviously there are no NFL teams in Los Angeles right now but if he were to buy the Dodgers and someone else moves there, he would have to sell one of them. So maybe he has his eye on moving his club there and become a major player in Los Angeles sports?

Now there appears to be three major players to move to Los Angeles; Oakland, San Diego and now St. Louis. And the Rams may be in the driver's seat right now.

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