Los Angeles has been without an NFL team for nearly two decades. It is difficult to comprehend how the nation’s second largest major city and television market can still be wading around in virtual NFL Siberia for 19 years. Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, the struggles to fill the stadium including promotions such as, free beer offerings and tickets as low as eight dollars have failed to produce any lasting effect. Los Angeles boasts a population of over 3.8 million people. According to a Harris poll, 59 percent of Americans follow the NFL; therefore, Los Angeles has potentially 2.3 million football fans, but no team to call their own. However, recently it has been suggested that the NFL could be considering a return of the Rams (currently in St. Louis) to Los Angeles.
The rumblings of a possible move back to Los Angeles for the St. Louis Rams have become more than just wishful thinking for a still loyal fan base in California. The assumption overrides mere rumor due to Rams Owner, Stan Kroenke’s purchase of a massive property in Inglewood, large enough to potentially house an NFL stadium. Additionally, the current Rams lease of Edward Jones Dome will lapse at the end of the 2014 season, if not renewed. Thus, taking those two factors into consideration, the possibility of a move as early as the 2015 season is not exactly far-fetched. Moreover, if the NFL were to return the Rams to Los Angeles, it could turn out to be very lucrative for all parties involved.
Despite a consistent rise in NFL interest by the American public, teams continue to struggle with the problem of low turnout in their stadiums. Needless to say, those teams in the bottom five for home attendance struggle the most, St. Louis included. Further, St. Louis was not only identified in the bottom five, they ranked below the Jaguars, who are universally known for having one of the worst home attendance records in the league.
Generally, population of the home city has an impact on the success of a team and a direct correlation with attendance. Many have said Jacksonville is too small to hope to achieve a strong fan base, but that argument is extremely irrelevant when population and fan base are compared in a big picture format. For example, St. Louis has only one-third the population of Jacksonville, yet manages to maintain a similar home attendance percentage. Seattle is a prime example for the argument of population, as the population is much smaller than that of Jacksonville, but the Seahawks have enjoyed a sold out stadium for every game since 2003.
Nevertheless, including a city with a population of millions (and no football team) in the equation has the potential for making the entire argument moot. There is little doubt that a Los Angeles team could reliably fill a stadium, especially a team with an already established history within the city, such as the Rams. Further, an immense support for the cause exists in a unique segment of the Rams fan base, which voice their support via their organization Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams.
Unfortunately, no one has officially confirmed or even validated any intent of moving the team, Stan Kroenke and Roger Goodell included. In a statement responding to questions of a possible move, Goodell denied any intentions of such an action and pointed to the difficulties of carrying out such a scheme. The league requires approval from 24 out of the 32 owners before relocating any team.
Additionally, another roadblock exists outside of the NFL, as Los Angeles has been plagued in the past with the planning aspect of creating a stadium due to the nagging issue of providing sufficient parking.
In any case, the future of the Rams remains an unanswered question for the time being. However, the possibility of the NFL returning the Rams to their old home of 49 years is still exciting for Los Angeles football fans.
By Chavala Trigg