After 21 Years, Rams Will Return NFL Football to Los Angeles For 2016 Season; San Diego Chargers Retain Option to Share Stadium In Inglewood
|HKS Sports designed the stadium which will occupy a 3 million-square-foot footprint near the Forum and Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA.|
Determined to re-establish a presence in the second-largest U.S. television market, NFL owners resolved the contentious issue by approving plans to relocate the St. Louis Rams to a 300-acre stadium under development by Rams owner Stan Kroenke in Inglewood, CA.
Left unresolved were the location situations for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, which were also seeking approval to relocate to L.A. However, the owners left open the option for the Chargers to move north to share the $2.65 billion stadium development near the Hollywood Park horse racing track, although the terms and conditions remain unclear.
The proposal by Kroenke fell short of the 24 votes needed for approval in the first two rounds of voting during the NFL owners' meeting in Houston, but prevailed in a third ballot shortly after 5:30 p.m. -- easily defeating a proposal by the Chargers and Oakland Raiders to share a proposed stadium about 14 miles southeast of Inglewood in Carson, CA. The Raiders will remain in Oakland for now, but the Chargers have until Jan. 16, 2017 to negotiate a lease agreement with the Rams.
Should the Chargers not be able to come to terms with Kroenke or decide to go elsewhere, the Raiders would then have the option of pursuing an agreement to join the Rams in LA.
The decision is especially disheartening for St. Louis, which stands to lose its second NFL franchise.
Kroenke broke ground last month at the 300-acre site he purchased in Inglewood, a site first approved for an NFL stadium in 1995. The project now includes plans for development of NFL Network studios and an entertainment district, in addition to the 70,240-seat stadium and 11-acre Champions Plaza designed by HKS Sports architects, which has also designed the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Under an agreement with the University of Southern California, the Rams will play at the Los Angeles Coliseum until 2019 when the new stadium opens. According to Kroenke's application filed early this month, the stadium's 3 million-square-foot footprint will be the largest in the NFL.
In a statement, Kroenke called relocation "the most difficult process of my professional career."
"While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, CA, this is bitter sweet," said Kroenke, a Missouri native who was part of the ownership group that brought the Rams to St. Louis in 1995. "St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people"
"This decision is about what is in the best long-term interests of the Rams organization and the National Football League. We have negotiated in good faith with the Regional Sports Authority for more than a decade trying to find a viable and sustainable solution. When it became apparent that we might not be able to reach an agreement, it was then and only then that we looked at alternatives."
In a statement, Chargers chairman and owner Dean Spanos said the compromise deal safeguards the franchise while respecting the will of the majority of owners.
"The Chargers have been approved to relocate to Los Angeles, at the Inglewood location, at any time in the next year. In addition, the NFL has granted an additional $100 million in assistance in the event there is a potential solution that can be placed before voters in San Diego."