The St. Louis Rams relocated from Los Angeles to the Gateway to the West in 1995, won the Super Bowl in 1999, made the playoffs four of the next five years, then missed the postseason from 2005-2015.
The rest is history, quite literally.
Following a 30-2 vote among current NFL owners, the Rams’ application to return to Los Angeles was approved this week for the 2016 season.
The franchise will move forward with building a stadium that could cost upwards of $3 billion on the former grounds of the Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who also controls other sports franchises including the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche, called the decision to relocate back to Los Angeles the “most difficult process of my professional career.”
“While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet,” Kroenke insisted.
Kroenke is a sports and real estate mogul, though he inherited the majority of his billions through his marriage to Ann Walton, the daughter of Walmart co-founder James “Bud” Walton.
Missourians aren’t buying Kroenke’s supposed sorrow. During Tuesday’s St. Louis Blues NHL game, fans booed the news with a rather crude chant directed at Kroenke.
St. Louis native and host of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live,” Andy Cohen said on his late-night program, “[Kroenke] called St. Louis struggling but interestingly enough the Wall Street Journal last week named it the No. 1 sports town in America. When this jack*** said he wanted a new stadium, St. Louis offered him a $1.1 billion open-air stadium but he still decided to leave.”
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay added, “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… In the meantime, we need to increase our focus on the region’s hospitality industry.”
The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, two teams also interested in moving to Los Angeles, will receive $100 million from the league should they opt to remain in their current markets.
Daily Fantasy Impact
The California State Assembly will soon consider a bill that would fully regulate daily fantasy sports (DFS). Introduced by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-District 21) and passed through the Governmental Organization Committee in which he chairs, the Internet Fantasy Sports Game Protection Act will clear the murky waters of DFS.
That’s perfect timing for the Rams’ comeback to the City of Angels.
DFS market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel are now both valued at more than $1 billion. Gray estimates that some 15 percent of daily fantasy entries are placed in California, and while the state already has the San Francisco 49ers, Chargers, and Raiders, returning a franchise to Los Angeles will likely pay dividends.
Politicians in states like New York and Illinois are fighting to ward of DFS operators. California seems to be taking steps to do just the opposite.
With the second-largest city in America now armed with a NFL team, the most popular sport among DFS fans, sites like DraftKings and FanDuel might have reason for optimism following a turbulent 2015 season.