Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

NFL approves Rams' move to Los Angeles; Chargers could join them

HOUSTON — The Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, leaving St. Louis, and the San Diego Chargers have the option to join them in a compromise that NFL owners approved Tuesday night.

The Oakland Raiders, who also wanted to move to the area, could join in if the Chargers choose to stay put, commissioner Roger Goodell said.

The Chargers and Raiders wanted to share a new stadium in Carson, Calif., and the Rams wanted to move to nearby Inglewood, but neither option got the 24 votes needed for approval. After a day of negotiations in Houston, the owners approved the St. Louis move 30-2, with a first option for San Diego to share the $1.8 billion stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood.

The decision ends the NFL's 21-year absence from the nation's second-largest media market.

"I often said over those 21 years what we need is a great facility," Goodell said. "The reason the two teams left in the 1990s … was they didn't have an adequate stadium."

The Chargers and Raiders can continue to negotiate with their home cities, and the league will contribute $100 million if either team builds a new stadium in their current markets.

"I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers," chairman Dean Spanos said.

The Chargers play 120 miles south of Inglewood in Qualcomm Stadium. The Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982-94 and split a facility with baseball's Athletics, the last remaining NFL-MLB stadium.

The Rams, founded in Cleveland in 1937, were based in the L.A. area from 1946-94 with a record of 364-299-18.

The impending move will make the Rams the first NFL franchise to move three times. The team has won exactly one NFL championship at each stop — in 1945 (Cleveland), 1951 (Los Angeles) and 1999 in Super Bowl XXXIV (St. Louis).

St. Louis leaders expressed disappointment.

"The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium," Mayor Francis Slay said in a statement.

The team will play in a temporary facility — probably the Los Angeles Coliseum — until its new stadium is ready for the 2019 season.

"Today, with the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "We cannot wait to welcome the Rams, and perhaps others soon."

No NFL franchise has moved since the Houston Oilers went to Tennessee in 1997. The Raiders and Rams both left Los Angeles after the 1994 season.

In a report to all 32 teams days before the meetings, Goodell deemed the venues in all three existing cities inadequate and said the stadium proposals lacked certainty.

Kroenke has said St. Louis' economy makes it difficult for an NFL franchise to thrive there.

"We understand the emotions involved of our fans," he said. "We made a decision and worked long and hard at the various alternatives. When they didn't succeed, we worked this one to this point."

Kroenke, a native of Columbia, Mo., and a University of Missouri graduate, also owns the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, NBA's Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, and is the majority shareholder of Arsenal in the English Premier League.

"This has been the most difficult process of my professional career," Kroenke said in a statement, also calling the move "bittersweet" and adding, "St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people. Being part of the group that brought the NFL back to St. Louis in 1995 is one of the proudest moments of my professional career."

The St. Louis proposal called for an open-air $1.1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River north of the Gateway Arch to replace the Edward Jones Dome. The plan included $150 million from the city, $250 million from Kroenke, at least $200 million from the league, and $160 million in fan seat licenses, with the rest from the state, either through tax credits or bonds.

Goodell says NFL policy limits the league's contribution to $100 million, and Kroenke largely ignored the plan.

The Chargers and San Diego have been at odds since 2000, when owner Alex Spanos said his team needed to replace Qualcomm Stadium. That was just three years after the venue was expanded to accommodate the Chargers and Super Bowls.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam isn't at the meetings during his team's search for a new coach.

Playoff update: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on his radio show that he has torn ligaments and a sprain in his right shoulder, though coach Mike Tomlin stressed the team hopes Roethlisberger will be ready for Sunday's playoff visit to Denver. "Ben has a chance," Tomlin said. "We'll manage him day to day." Tomlin also remained hopeful All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) could play. … Two Cardinals defensive starters — outside linebacker Alex Okafor (non-football injury) and defensive tackle Cory Redding (high ankle sprain) — are out for the playoffs. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid said star receiver Jeremy Maclin has a mild high ankle sprain and didn't practice.

Around the league: Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph was named Miami's defensive coordinator under new coach Adam Gase. … Vikings coach Mike Zimmer fired offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. … The Bills announced defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson will not return.

NFL playoffs

WILD-CARD roundDIVISION roundAFC ChampSuper Bowl 50NFC ChampDIVISION roundWILD-CARD round
5. Kansas City 305. Green Bay 35
6. Pittsburgh6. Seattle
4. at Houston 04. at Washington 18
4:40 Sunday, Ch. 101 Sunday, Ch. 13
1. at Denver1. at Carolina
3:05 Jan. 24, Ch. 106:30 Feb. 7, Ch. 106:40 Jan. 24, Ch. 13
2. at New England2. at Arizona
4:35 Saturday, Ch. 108:15 Saturday, Ch. 8
6. Pittsburgh 186. Seattle 10
5. Kansas City5. Green Bay
3. at Cincinnati 163. at Minnesota 9


NFL playoffs

WILD-CARD roundDIVISION roundAFC ChampSuper Bowl 50NFC ChampDIVISION roundWILD-CARD round
5. Kansas City 305. Green Bay 35
6. Pittsburgh6. Seattle
4. at Houston 04. at Washington 18
4:40 Sunday, Ch. 101 Sunday, Ch. 13
1. at Denver1. at Carolina
3:05 Jan. 24, Ch. 106:30 Feb. 7, Ch. 106:40 Jan. 24, Ch. 13
2. at New England2. at Arizona
4:35 Saturday, Ch. 108:15 Saturday, Ch. 8
6. Pittsburgh 186. Seattle 10
5. Kansas City5. Green Bay
3. at Cincinnati 163. at Minnesota 9

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