Arena Football League, Coliseum, Crosstown Rivalry, Los Angeles, National Football League, NFL, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Paul Allen, Pete Carroll, Raiders, Rose Bowl, San Diego Chargers, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke, Super Bowl, UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans, Vince Lombardi Trophy
A group of Rams fans showing their allegiance and appealing for their team’s return
ONE FAN’S OPINION OF THIS TWENTY-YEAR OLD QUESTION
This is something that has been asked, and many have been frustrated over the lack of progress of, for two decades.
Nobody thought that when the Rams and Raiders played – and lost – their last games in Los Angeles on the day before Christmas in 1994 that there would not be another team in the National Football League that called America’s second largest city home to this present day.
Not that there haven’t been rumors and teases, particularly with regards to one of the teams that will play in the upcoming Super Bowl as defending NFL champs, the Seattle Seahawks.
Those ‘Hawks came oh-so-close to relocating to L.A. in 1996 before the team was sold to billionaire Paul Allen, last minute deals and agreements were made, and not only stayed in Seattle but obviously flourished as Pete Carroll’s squad will be aiming to keep the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the Pacific Northwest this coming February 1st.
Now we have the current owner of the St. Louis Rams (twenty years later, that still doesn’t sound right), Stan Kroenke, buying 60 acres in nearby Inglewood and making it clear that he intends to bring his Rams franchise back to where they played from the end of World War II – 1946 – to their final days in front of anemic crowds in Anaheim in ’94.
Judging from news articles, he is serious about this.
But the question remains:
Will Kroenke keep his word and return the Rams to their Los Angeles home?
My short answer: I’ll believe it when I see a guy with a Rams helmet kicks off and begins an NFL game in the Inglewood sports complex that Kroenke wants to build – or in Carson or the proposed Farmers Field downtown for that matter.
Add to that the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that there will be no NFL team in L.A. for the 2015 season due to the continued lack of a solid stadium plan, and my even shorter answer to the question of pro football returning to the city of Angels is…
Along with the stadium issue, here are my other reasons why my answer is the way it is:
1. Los Angeles has gotten along fine without an NFL team
The sky didn’t fall.
The world as it is known to be did not end.
And no one jumped from any buildings or shot themselves.
In fact, the sports bars throughout town have been filled with fans of other teams watching their 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys for these past 20 years.
The fans have found that they rather like not having to cough up thousands of dollars for personal seat licenses just to have the right to spend hundreds of dollars on a ticket which, in all likelihood, is in the nosebleed section anyway.
They have rather liked not having to deal with TV blackouts that a local game would suffer if it didn’t sell out.
And they have found other things to do, which leads me to this next reason:
2. As a major city in a very enviable climate, L.A. has too many other options for the recreational dollar
Has anyone ever noticed that many of the cities that house NFL teams are not exactly huge metropolises?
Green Bay, with a population of just 300,000, certainly illustrates that, but towns like Jacksonville, Nashville (Tennessee Titans), Charlotte, NC (Carolina Panthers), Buffalo and New Orleans – especially since that tragic Hurricane Katrina ten years ago – aren’t exactly brimming with people, either.
As far as sports are concerned, those cities’ teams are a major part of their entertainment (I know Nashville’s also the Mecca of country music, but still), while L.A. has SO much more going on.
Plus – the recent rally of Rams fans at the Coliseum notwithstanding – there’s more of an attitude of “It’s just a game” than there is in places like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Not that there’s a complete lack of passion for football in Southern California; it’s just not focused on the NFL variety, as seen in this third reason:
The then-Los Angeles Raiders preparing to take the Coliseum field during their last days in L.A.
3. The UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans
It’s quite safe to say that Los Angeles’ two major college football teams have more than taken up the slack for the Rams and Raiders leaving town over the past couple of decades, the only real difference being that the Bruins and Trojans are not supposed to get a salary.
Certainly the dominance of USC in the 2000s under the current Seahawks coach is an obvious illustration, with guys from Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush (yes, I know his antics caused the Trojans to receive heavy NCAA sanctions) to Mark Sanchez, with Coliseum crowds in the 90,000s to back that up.
And UCLA is on the cusp of a possible dominance as Jim Mora’s Bruins have won ten games for two consecutive years, beaten ‘SC three straight years, and led the Pac-12 in home attendance this season, averaging at least 70,000 fans at the Rose Bowl for two straight seasons and 76,000 for this just-completed campaign.
The fact that the annual Crosstown Rivalry Clash between these two schools on the gridiron is still the single greatest annual sporting event on the West Coast after more than eighty years speaks for itself.
So, to sum everything up…
If these reasons why I am of the opinion that the National Football League will not return to Los Angeles are not crystal clear or doesn’t convince you, nothing will.
Of course I wouldn’t boo if the Rams or the San Diego Chargers started playing their home games in L.A. (the Raiders, well…that’s another article).
I am one of the millions of sports fans in this part of the country who are not fussed by the lack of a pro team.
And with all due respect to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, the L.A. Kiss of the Arena Football League doesn’t count.
For old times’ sake and to give everyone a sense of nostalgia, here’s a video of the last time the Raiders and Rams met while calling Los Angeles home: