When the Rams put down stakes for their second stint in Los Angeles, few predicted the ripple effect the move would have. One year later, San Diego is scheduled to play in a soccer venue in 2017, and the Oakland Raiders are departing Northern California for the neon lights of Las Vegas.
The NFL, that’s who.
Appropriately, Rams COO Kevin Demoff would weigh in on the up’s and down’s the Raiders will have as the second team to abandon their California home for greener pastures in 2017.
Unlike his Rams, The Raiders will play two more seasons in Oakland. They won’t have the luxury of not facing jilted fans on Sunday afternoons as the Rams did. In St. Louis, it was the worst kept secret in town and around the NFL that Stan Kroenke, along with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, had designs on Los Angeles. Since both the Raiders and Rams bailed on SoCal in the mid 90’s, NFL commissioners had tried to get pro football back in L.A. The clumsy nature aside with the Rams execution in getting back to their roots, Kroenke seems to have opened up the door for two other NFL cities to lose their teams.
But it’s not all on the owners.
California has seen an exodus of business leave the Golden State. Voters and local governments demonstrated little interest in keeping charter AFL franchises in their cities. Both San Diego and Oakland were fine with having their teams play in outdated venues as voters routinely said “NO” on Election Day.
Kroenke and his Rams set off a chain reaction of audacity that saw owners emboldened to say “see ya” to loyal fanbases in search of a better deal.
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And they’ll get one.
Along with the Rams, the Chargers will play in brand new digs in Inglewood come 2019, while the Raiders will become the only game in town when they kick off in Las Vegas in either the 2019 or 2020 season.
As for fans in Oakland and San Diego, well, the NFL will recommend a better cable or satellite package if you choose to continue supporting your former teams.
How did that work for fans in St. Louis?
What Kroenke and Demoff, Snead and Fisher taught us is that a relocation only means a new zip code.
What we learned about the Rams going 4-12 in 2016, is that life in the NFL rolls on. And despite going from 90,000 fans for a preseason game, to what looked like a crowd of only family and friends to wrap the season on New Year’s Day in the Coliseum, is it really doesn’t matter.
The Rams managed to jettison one fan base and then find another. They’ll build an NFL palace, and fans will come.
So will Super Bowls.
And that’s the deal in today’s NFL.
The Rams won’t be remembered much for ushering in a “New Era” of football in Los Angeles, but they will be credited for a different kind of era: the end of pro football in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland.