It's been a long time since that ugly 'R' word - relocation - came up for the Rams, though it's consistently written between the lines, taunting St. Louis area fans and tantalizing our friends in LA. I supposed as long as Los Angeles - the number two television market in the US - continues to be without a pro football team, relocation stories are going to pop up every time there's a rumbling of discord out there. So what's the relocation talk today?
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on where you live and who you root for) this time it's the San Diego Chargers that could be packing up and heading to north. Talk surfaced yesterday when the news was reported that the Chargers hired an LA-based marketing firm to help establish their brand in LA and Orange County. (What, a marketing firm in LA dealing with entertainment? They have those?) That news coincided with the Chargers ongoing frackus with the city of San Diego over a new stadium, and when Chargers front office people say things like,
"The bottom line is Los Angeles and Orange County are two of the most lucrative markets in the world. There’s no NFL team in those markets, and there’s no reason the Chargers can’t pursue those areas in these difficult economic times."
Well, you can see where such speculation comes from in the larger context.
More interesting in all of this and where the Chargers situation really, eerily mirrors the Rams' is their decision not to opt out of their stadium exit clause for 2009, for the small fee of $56.2 million. Where the parallel ends is that out fee; the Rams, as far as I can tell all the reporting on the subject, do not have to pay a fee for their "top 25 venue by 2015" clause to opt out of the lease on the Ed Jones Dome...or whatever it'll be named in six years. The Rams can simply just leave.
Now who knows where the economy will be in 2015, but the city will most certainly turn to the taxpayers for the required renovations or new facility for the team. And that's where it gets murky and generally not fun to talk about. The cost of relocation might prevent anything immediately, but the team could have new owners by that point too. (I'm still holding out hope that the league will tweak the rules to let Stan Kroenke and those deeper Wal-Mart lined pockets to take majority control).