While there has always been some speculation, recent reports have confirmed that AEG, a corporation based in Southern California, has had discussions with the St. Louis Rams about moving to Los Angeles.
Before you begin either panicking or cheering, depending on your location, let me say that while they have discussed a move with St. Louis, they have also discussed a possible move with Minnesota, San Diego, Jacksonville and Oakland.
Now let's take a look at this from the business perspective. If you are going to move a team into Los Angeles, the way you can maximize profit would be to simply move a team that already has an established fan base in Southern California. That gives us the Raiders, Chargers and, to a small but still acceptable extent, the Rams. The next decision would be to decide who would benefit the most financially from a move, basically who needs a larger following. Here are the 2010 attendance numbers for the five teams discussed:
(Rank) Team: AVG - Total
(21) San Diego Chargers: 65,530 - 524,241
(24) Jacksonville Jaguars: 63,032 - 504,262
(28) Minnesota Vikings: 58, 751 - 470,009
(30) Saint Louis Rams: 52,992 - 423,383
(32) Oakland Raiders: 46,431 - 371,448
These numbers conclude from strictly a financial standpoint, that the Raiders would most benefit from the move to Los Angeles. A move from the eighth-most populated city in California to the most populated, mixed with a new stadium, will cause a giant spike in attendance. And as anyone from Southern California would tell you, there is an outstanding Raider fan base just waiting for the day the team moves back to Los Angeles. On paper, this move appears to have the most upside, bringing one of the top-selling merchandise teams to an area that would give them the chance to be one the top ticket-selling teams is a win-win for everyone.
From the perspective of the fan, the most logical move would be to send the Chargers to Los Angeles. The fanbase is growing rapidly and is already established strongly in Southern California, the team appears to be in good hands and they play in an absolute eye-sore of a stadium in Qualcomm Stadium. They don't have the most to gain like the Raiders, but they are the most deserving of a new stadium. That isn't to say Oakland isn't deserving of a new location. They currently share a stadium with MLB's Oakland Athletics and at one point also shared it with the MLS's San Jose Earthquakes. The stadium was also recently renamed to Overstock.com Stadium, for what its worth (Overstock.com signed a six-year deal for the name).
The 'Trust in Kroenke' Standpoint.
There is one last reason Rams fans may not have to worry about the team moving. When billionaire Stan Kroenke purchased the Rams last season, he went on record with the following:
"I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis, just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves."
"There's a track record. I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I'm stepping up one more time."
"I'm born and raised in Missouri. I've been a Missourian for 60 years. People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I am an honorable guy."
So there is that. They say everyone has a price, so is it possible Kroenke could move the team to Los Angeles under the right conditions? My guess is no. However, the Rams need to prove that they can still put some fans in the stands. For one reason or another, it takes awhile for attendance to begin lining up with records, as some fans need to see a successful product for an entire season to be convinced they are worth the price of an NFL ticket. That being said, next season may go a long way in determining the future of the Rams. So get to the Dome and save your team from consideration Saint Louis!
So what do you think, will the Rams be moving to Los Angeles soon?
For those interested, here are the franchise values for the five mentioned franchises in 2009 and 2010 (Via Forbes.com).
(Rank) Team: 2009 value - 2010 value
(24th) San Diego Chargers: $917 mil - $907 mil
(29th) Saint Louis Rams: $913 mil - $779 mil
(30th) Minnesota Vikings: $835 mil - $774 mil
(31st) Oakland Raiders: $797 mil - $758 mil
(32nd) Jacksonville Jaguars: $866 mil - $725 mil