Monday was the deadline for NFL teams to file relocation applications to the league office. As expected, the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams all filed the proper documents to move their teams to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
Whereas St. Louis Rams fans were not surprised when they heard the filing occurred as planned, what was unforeseen was the language used by Rams owner Stan Kroenke when listing his reasoning for wanting to leave the Gateway City in the 29-page document.
Kroenke cited three main points in the relocation application as to why he requested to move his team to Inglewood, Cal.
1. The Rams Inglewood, Cal. project provides the League with the best opportunity for success in Los Angeles.
2. The Rams’ contract right to relocate from St. Louis because St. Louis has not maintained a "First Tier" stadium, ranked in the top 25 percent of all NFL stadiums at no cost to the Rams owner until 2025.
3. The St. Louis Market cannot support three professional teams and has issued a stadium deal no NFL team is interested in.
It has not been a secret that Kroenke wants to move the team and has purchased 300 acres in Inglewood, Cal. to build his own stadium. His plan was described as designed to host two NFL teams and can open by the 2019 season.
The new stadium would have 70,240 fixed seats and can accommodate an additional 30,000 people in standing room only capacity. The stadium would have 274 suites and 16,300 premium seats. The design incorporates a clear ETFE roof ( a co-polymer resin that is extruded into a thin film and is self-cleaning) over the entire building but is open-air on all sides to allow for an outdoor fan experience with protection from the elements.
Kroenke proposed adjacent to the stadium is an 11-acre covered fan plaza and a Champions Plaza to provide pre-game entertainment opportunities. The stadium footprint is nearly three million square feet, which makes the proposed stadium the largest in the NFL. The performance venue can serve as a home for the NFL Draft, NFL Honors and other NFL-themed events such as NFL Films premieres.
The roof over the stadium would allow the NFL to move events such as the Pro Bowl, NFL Combine and other annual events to the NFL campus as well. Kroenke is willing to pay $800 million towards the $1.9 billion project along with a $550 million relocation fee.
The NFL released a public statement on Monday concerning the relocation applications.
"The applications will be reviewed this week by league staff and three league committees that will meet in New York on Wednesday and Thursday — the Los Angeles Opportunities, Stadium, and Finance committees. The applications will be presented for consideration at next week's league meeting in Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday. The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs (24 of 32)."
The Rams will learn their fate following the owners meeting on Jan. 15-16.
St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher addressed the topic of relocation briefly on Monday with members of the team.
“I shared with the team today, I’ve been through this experience before,” Fisher said. “We have to take the approach and with the assumption that everything’s taking place here in St. Louis until we’re told otherwise. I’ve chosen not to ask questions, so I can tell the truth when I’m asked questions. I don’t know, but we are moving through the normal off season protocol right now with the wrap up, physicals and whatever surgeries that we have to have and moving through the staff issues, and we’ll go on.”
Ram fans were disappointed how Kroenke spoke so poorly of the city who has had solid fan support for more than 20 years.
“I think Kroenke wanting to move the Rams to LA is awful,” Wood River resident Jason Moellering said. “I think St. Louis has proven in the past that if the team is successful that they will support a football team. The Rams were the talk of the town 15 years ago so it has been proven to be somewhat of a football town. I think it would be a huge blow to the St. Louis area if there is no NFL team. I look forward to taking my son to games when he gets older and just enjoying a Sunday, hanging out with him and teaching him about the game. I will be upset if there is no team here for sure.”
Nathan Kincade felt the Rams should go if the owner doesn't want to stay.
“I say take them,” Kincade said. “We want someone to be here only if they want to be.”
Long-time Rams fans remember the St. Louis region's past attempts to improve the current Edwards Jones dome stadium.
“I feel the proposed upgrades to the Dome from a few years back would have been the most sensible solution,” East Alton resident Chris Edler said. “People in a 20 year old house don't tear it down just because it needs new windows and a coat of paint. That being said, I really don't care if they move or not. I'm so tired of having an indifferent, absent owner that I just don't feel invested with the Rams anymore. If you want to leave that bad Stan, then leave."
Dec. 30 was the deadline for local governments in St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego to submit their plans for new stadiums for the possibility of relocation as early as next season.
St. Louis proposed an open-air, $1.1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River, north of the Arch on Dec. 29.
The plan indicated $150 million would be paid from the city, at least $200 million from the league, $160 million in fan seat licenses and $250 million from the team owner. The rest of the money comes from the state, either through tax credits or bonds. The financial plan was approved through the St. Louis board of Aldermen last month.
The St. Louis stadium task force issued a statement concerning Kroenke's comments about the St. Louis region and fan base.
“The Rams’ assessment of their experience in St. Louis after 21 years of remarkable support by fans, businesses and the community is inaccurate and extremely disappointing. We have a spectacular stadium proposal that delivers certainly what the NFL has asked for,” the press release stated.
Los Angeles was the Rams’ home territory from 1946 to 1994 before relocating to St. Louis in 1995. The Rams won the Superbowl in 2000 against the Tennessee Titans and returned in 2002 with a loss to the New England Patriots. The Rams have not made a postseason appearance since 2004 when beating the Seattle Seahawks in a first-round playoff game in Seattle.