I know we have a sizeable contingent of Southern California fans on this site, loyal to the Rams, even though the team is now the St. Louis Rams. With news this week that the Los Angeles voted 12-0 to approve the framework for building a downtown stadium backed by the AEG entertainment megalith, talk the Rams re-relocating has cropped up again.
However, you can most set aside the idea of the St. Louis Rams becoming the downtown Los Angeles Rams. AEG wants a team now, or as soon as possible. The stadium itself would not be ready until 2016, so why the rush?
Long-term commitments mean money in the bank. A deal makes it much easier to get the next steps for building the stadium lined out with the city and other investors, and AEG wants a team to relocate there as soon as next spring.
Next spring would be too early for the Rams to break their lease on the Edward Jones Dome. Owner Stan Kroenke has a favorable out set for 2014, but that's too far down the road for AEG's liking and the race with a competing LA-area project in the City of Industry. That almost certainly rules out the Rams for relocation to LA, for now.
Sam Farmer of the LA Times gives odds on the San Diego Chargers landing in downtown LA, very good odds. If that happens, it would make the City of Industry development more difficult. Farmer notes that the NFL much prefers the downtown option for an LA team. If that one started moving forward, the impetus to move a second team to LA so soon might wane while the market develops.
As I've said all along, the real player to watch in the Rams-to-LA talk is Stan Kroenke, billionaire real estate developer. Kroenke bought the Rams for a song, both his initial share and the remaining interests from the Rosenbloom children. As the recent labor struggle reminded us, the NFL is a money making machine. Owning a franchise is a golden goose, and one way to embellish that golden goose is build it a fancy new house. In all likelihood the Rams will leave the Ed Jones Dome as we know it. Stan Kroenke will have a significant ownership stake in that new home, whether it's in suburban or downtown St. Louis, Los Angeles or Timbuktu, because he's a shrewd and wealthy enough business man, real estate business man, to know that stadium ownership is where it's at.
That said, having a second potential LA location vacant and waiting for a team makes for a very helpful bargaining chip, so don't expect the LA Rams talk to die out completely in the years ahead, even if downtown LA gets the Chargers.