Speaking during his Super Bowl press conference Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a large, “stadium-sized” plot of land in west Los Angeles. It’s a 60-acre lot in Inglewood that was originally slated to be a Wal Mart, but the store was never built.
While Goodell also said that he’s not sure the purchase was made with a future NFL stadium in mind, it is interesting considering the Rams’ current stadium situation. According to the terms of their lease with the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, the Rams have the right to exercise an escape clause if the stadium isn’t upgraded enough to be “one of the best eight venues in the NFL” by the end of the 2014 season. One of the best eight venues? Who ranks this? Seems arbitrary, but oh well. That’s what it says. If the upgrades aren’t made, the lease becomes a year-by-year situation from that point.
The Rams, of course, played in the L.A. area from 1946-1995, when they moved to St. Louis. Los Angeles has been actively seeking to acquire an NFL team for several years now, and surely the Rams would be a nice fit, given the fan base that already exists in Southern California. The Rams (or any team) would need the approval of 24 of the other 31 owners in the league in order to move to L.A.
Kroenke, who also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, has a history of taking on large developmental projects, so Goodell was quick to caution against the notion that this purchase was made with a stadium in mind. Though, given the circumstances detailed above surrounding the Rams, it’s a very convenient coincidence if that’s what it is.
The Rams and the city of St. Louis have been at odds over potential stadium upgrades, and Goodell said that negotiations between the parties aren’t “active” at the moment.
Of course, as a Southern California resident, I’m all for this. There’s absolutely no reason for the second-largest city in the country to be without a pro football team. The argument that Angelenos are generally apathetic about sports in general is flawed and completely misguided. The Dodgers (1st) and Angels (7th) each ranked in the top-10 in Major League Baseball in attendance last season. The Clippers and Lakers sell-out games on the regular, and the freaking hockey team is even 5th in the NHL in attendance this season.
If St. Louis isn’t taking the steps necessary to keep the team in town, then bringing the Rams back to Los Angeles is a no-brainer.