NFL owners approve Rams relocation; team will move to L.A. - KMOV.com

NFL owners approve Rams relocation; team will move to L.A.

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Stan Kroenke talks to the media after team owners voted Tuesday, in Houston, to allow the Rams to move to a new stadium just outside Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers will have an option to share the facility. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) Stan Kroenke talks to the media after team owners voted Tuesday, in Houston, to allow the Rams to move to a new stadium just outside Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers will have an option to share the facility. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP AP
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, left, shakes hands with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, right, as Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II looks on after an NFL owners meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, left, shakes hands with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, right, as Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II looks on after an NFL owners meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV/AP) -- It's official: residents in St. Louis will watch their football franchise walk out the door for a second time in 28 years. Tuesday in Houston, the NFL owners agreed to let owner Stan Kroenke move his team westward, approving the Rams' plan to move to L.A. and eventually into a stadium owned by Kroenke in Inglewood, California. The Raiders and Chargers may also receive $100 million towards new stadiums in their home markets.

This comes after the NFL Committee on L.A. Opportunities, a group of six owners, voted 5-1 in recommendation of the Carson stadium proposal over Kroenke's Inglewood proposal.

Read: Big moments in Rams' 21 years in St. Louis

The final vote was 30-2, according to NFL.com.

“This has been the most difficult process of my professional career,” said Rams owner Stan Kroenke Tuesday in a statement. “While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet. St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people. Being part of the group that brought the NFL back to St. Louis in 1995 is one of the proudest moments of my professional career. Reaching two Super Bowls and winning one are things all St. Louisans should always treasure."

Kroenke has said St. Louis' economy makes it difficult for an NFL franchise to thrive there.

"We understand the emotions involved of our fans," he said. "We made a decision and worked long and hard at the various alternatives. When they didn't succeed, we worked this one to this point."

When the full group of owners first voted, the Rams moving on their own was reportedly shot down. If they were going to relocate, they would be joined by another team in Inglewood, though that team was not determined. So owners voted on two options: the Rams/second team Inglewood plan, or the Raiders/Chargers Carson plan. 


Which NFL team will you root for with the Rams moving? Share your thoughts.


Neither proposal gained the 24 votes necessary to pass in the first round of voting, but reports indicated a two-team Rams proposal was the leading candidate over the Raiders and Chargers two-team Carson proposal.

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Reportedly, representatives of the three teams then met again with the L.A. committee and attempted to broker a deal. In the second round of voting, a proposal pairing the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood got the required votes. Under the plan, the Rams and Chargers reportedly have the right to relocate, with the Chargers having the option to negotiate with the Rams and join them. If the Chargers elect to not leave San Diego, then the Raiders would have their own opportunity to move to LA.

The Chargers and Raiders will also receive $100 million to possibly build new stadiums in Oakland and San Diego. Both the Chargers and Raiders said they will weigh their options before making a decision.

"I often said over those 21 years what we need is a great facility," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "The reason the two teams left in the 1990s ... was they didn't have an adequate stadium. I think what happened over the last years is we had two outstanding opportunities, both of these stadium projects were outstanding."

The decision is a culmination of a saga that stretches back to 2013, when a judge sided with the Rams in an arbitration hearing involving their lease at the Edwards Jones Dome. When the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995, the 30-year lease they signed with the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Commission included a clause that allowed the Rams to convert the lease to year-to-year terms if the Edward Jones Dome did not rank among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums based on certain criteria.

Renovation proposals were submitted by both the CVC and the Rams, the two plans had a spending gap of $600 million. When the hearing was held in 2013, far more than half of NFL stadiums were built after 1995, and the Edward Jones Dome would have required significant upgrades to rank in the top fourth. A judge sided with the Rams, and with the city unwilling (and truthfully unable) to spend the $700 million the Rams were asking for, the team was allowed to go year-to-year on their lease.

Kroenke wouldn’t make that move until the 2015 season, but in January of 2014, he purchased 60 acres of land in Inglewood, California, signaling his intentions to move the team. Throughout the year, both the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers joined in the relocation sweepstakes, and in November, the St. Louis Stadium Task Force was founded to begin preparing a proposal to counter Kroenke’s possible move.

In January of 2015, Kroenke announced plans for an 80,000-seat stadium as part of his development in Inglewood, and in in the same month, the first renderings of a brand new, open-air riverfront stadium in St. Louis were released. The race intensified in February, when the Raiders and Chargers  announced a shared-use stadium proposal between the two franchises in Carson, California.

Over the course of 2015, St. Louis’ task force claimed a series of small victories, eventually scoring a major win in early December when the Board of Aldermen approved the financing plan, allowing for $150 million in funding from city taxpayers.

The approval allowed the task force to move forward with their plan, and on December 29, they submitted their stadium proposal to the NFL.

Things turned ugly in early 2016, when Kroenke’s relocation application was publicly leaked. Submitted on January 4, the application contained harsh statements about St. Louis and its fans, and was viewed as an unnecessary attack. The Rams owner said St. Louis was too far behind economically and too sparsely populated to support three major teams, and added the fan base was unwilling to support the team despite the franchise’s best efforts to engage the community. However the most cutting line came when Kroenke painted St. Louis as cancerous to the success of the NFL at large.

“Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed.”

In response, the Stadium Task Force fired back in a five-page rebuttal. In the document, they claimed many of Kroenke’s financial numbers involving the St. Louis stadium plan were off base, and suggested he deliberately misrepresented revenue estimations in St. Louis to make relocation appear far more attractive by comparison.

They also leapt to the defense of the fan base, saying,

“During the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Rams compiled six total wins. Yet, on average, 59,837 fans (equivalent to 89% capacity) attended the Edward Jones Dome each game during that span. In 2007, the Rams still filled the Dome to over 95% capacity, despite the team only winning three games.”

“In their Statement of Reasons, the Rams seem befuddled by low attendance despite all of their claimed “investments and engagements,” perhaps overlooking the chronic lack of on-field success over the past decade.”

That response served as an apt coda, summing up years of hostility between Kroenke and the city in which his franchise operates.

With such a public and ever-deepening rift, Tuesday’s decision was more of a formality than a shocking reveal. The Rams are headed back to Los Angeles, and St. Louis is left to process their second jilting by the NFL in three decades.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

  • With the Rams moving, what team will you now root for?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Chiefs
    24%
    114 votes
    Bears
    6%
    31 votes
    Titans
    2%
    10 votes
    Cardinals
    9%
    44 votes
    Bengals
    3%
    15 votes
    None
    33%
    157 votes
    Other
    23%
    112 votes

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