NFL will return to Los Angeles for 2016 season
NFL will return to Los Angeles for 2016 season
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Inglewood stadium. (HKS)
Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno Contact Reporters
For more than two decades, billionaire developers, corporate titans, Hollywood power-brokers and four Los Angeles mayors tried and failed to bring the National Football League back to the nation’s second-largest market.
The odyssey ended Tuesday.
NFL owners voted 30-2 to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and to give the San Diego Chargers a one-year option to join the Rams in Inglewood.
The Rams’ home will ultimately be on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood in what will be the league’s biggest stadium by square feet, a low-slung, glass-roofed football palace with a projected opening in 2019 and a price tag that could approach $3 billion.
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“We realized this was our opportunity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Goodell, while pointing out the Rams are returning to their former home market, also predicted the Inglewood stadium would change “not just NFL stadiums and NFL complexes but sports complexes around the world.”
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The historic vote in a fourth-floor conference room at a suburban hotel left open the possibility of the Chargers or Oakland Raiders sharing the Inglewood stadium.
The league will also give the Chargers and the Raiders each $100 million to put toward new stadiums if they stay in their current home markets. No public money will be used to build the Inglewood stadium.
If the Chargers do not exercise their right to move to Inglewood by Jan. 15, 2017, the Raiders will have a one-year option to join the Rams.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke called the decision to leave St. Louis “bittersweet.”
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“We understand the emotions involved with our fans,” he said in his first public comments in more than a year. “It’s not easy to do these things. It’s purposefully made hard.
L.A. is “a difficult place to permit a stadium and build something that we as a league can all be proud of. I think we worked hard and we got a little bit lucky and we had a lot of good people help us,” said Kroenke.
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Eric Dickerson, a Hall of Fame running back for the Rams when they played in Anaheim before leaving for St. Louis after the 1994 season, followed the final vote as it took place.
“I can’t put it into words, man,” Dickerson said of his reaction. “When I see them kick off, the first time they play, that’s when I’ll believe it’s really happened.”
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Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis joined Kroenke on stage during Goodell’s news conference. All were subdued and looked fatigued after meetings that started at 9 a.m. and broke around 8 p.m.
“This is not a win for the Raiders today, but at the same time I’m really happy for Stan Kroenke,” Davis said. “We’ll be working really hard to find us a home. … Don’t feel bad. We’ll get it right.”
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Spanos was equally noncommittal about returning to his home market for good.
“You know, I’m going to try to take a day off,” he said. “This has really been excruciating for everyone. I’m going to look at all our options. … It’s very difficult to say right now I’m going to do this or I’m going to do that.”
The two owners stepped off stage and left the room before the news conference ended.
Earlier Tuesday, the Committee on L.A. Opportunities, composed of six NFL owners, endorsed the Carson site backed by the Chargers and Raiders. The recommendation didn’t sway other owners.
Rams to L.A., Chargers have option to join them
NFL owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles and give the San Diego Chargers the option to join. The Oakland Raiders will not be moving to Los Angeles.
A solution became imminent when owners were presented with the option of the Rams and a team to be determined at Inglewood. That received 20 votes in the first balloting, four shy of the 24 needed to pass, and 21 on the second vote. The outcome appeared inevitable to owners, prompting Goodell to pull aside Davis and Spanos and begin negotiating an exit.
Before the final vote, Davis agreed to stay in Oakland for now and Spanos’ options dwindled. It left a clear choice for the owners. In the end, a tight race between the projects that had stretched almost a year became a landslide.
“They made the right decision,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “It’s such a natural to have the Los Angeles Rams back in Los Angeles.”
Developers envision transforming the 298-acre Inglewood site into a multibillion-dollar entertainment, retail and housing complex, with the privately financed stadium and a performing arts venue as the centerpiece.
Read the NFL decision to allow the Rams and possibly the Chargers to move to L.A.
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