For the first time in over 20 years, the NFL can finally say it has found a home in Los Angeles. Just three days after Stan Kroenke announced the remarriage of the Rams and the city, he made his first public appearance at the Forum in Inglewood Friday afternoon. The press conference officially welcomes back the team that spend 49 seasons in Southern California and discussed the upcoming plans for the City of Champions project that is expected to be completed by 2019.
“This is all about football really,” Kroenke said. “This is about the great history of the Los Angeles Rams.”
Big Plans for Stan Kroenke’s Los Angeles Rams
Kroenke was accompanied by City of Inglewood mayor James Butts, Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, Developmental Manager of Hollywood Park Land Co. Chris Meany and head coach Jeff Fisher. Butts has been credited as being the driving force behind bringing football back to Southern California. After being elected in 2011, Butts supported a $1.86 billion dollar budget that was approved by Inglewood city council in February 2015.
“There were a lot of things that had to come together to make this the most compelling project for the owners to vote to allow the relocation,” Butts said. “One of them was the largest continuous block of open land in Southern California that was right across from the iconic Forum that Madison Square Garden has brought back to be the number one venue in the Greater Los Angeles area.”
Kroenke also reflected on his vision for football in Los Angeles after the Rams finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.
“I was walking around New York City with our guys in November,”Kroenke said. “I said ‘Guys look around you, what do you see?’ They said ‘We see the Big Apple and an amazing city’ I said ‘What if I told you there’s a market out there that is like this city but has no team from the National Football League. If you had the opportunity to build a world class stadium in this city’ you probably wouldn’t believe it. That’s the opportunity we have in front of us. We are going to bring Super Bowls and a Final Four here.”
Much of the attention was Fisher who is a Los Angeles native. Fisher was born in Culver City and played high school football at Taft High School of Woodland Hills, Calif before playing four seasons at USC and winning a national championship in 1978. Fisher would later serve the Los Angeles Rams in 1991 for one season as defensive coordinator.
“One of the first things we need to here is get the players settled,” Fisher said. “We need to find a place to train. The next thing we need to do is to get the players out in the community and make them available whenever there is rallies. To get those that are on the fence to really get a chance to know us because this is going to be a special team.”
In attendance were many former Rams players including former pro bowl quarterback Jim Everett. Everett played eight seasons for the Rams and remains the franchise’s leader in passing yards.
“It just seems right that the Rams have finally come home, in fact I’m still pinching myself,” Everett said. “I think a lot of people are. The odds of this happening are so remote, as far as our Rams coming home. It had to be Mr. Kroenke.
“The stars aligned to bring them back and it had to have the stadium deal that they could get out of. And then to be able to develop available space here in Los Angeles? Those are such rare occurrences that I think we all appreciate it.”
41-year-old mechanical engineer was just one of a couple of hundred fans that came out to welcome back the Los Angeles Rams and Stan Kroenke. Just three days after hearing about his team moving back, Jimenez was still shaking and overcome with joy.
“It feels like my long lost child has been returned to me,” Jimenez said. “It feels like a 20-year heartache that was ripped out of my chest is a wound that has now been healed. I can finally start waking up and living every day knowing that my Rams are back home in Los Angeles where they belong.”
“To be able to say ‘the Los Angeles Rams’ is the most powerful, emotional, invoking thing I can say right now. It’s like a dream.”
With the City of Champions project set to begin construction in Inglewood, the only question remains will be who else will move to Los Angeles to join Kroenke and the Rams. The NFL mandated after Tuesday’s vote that the Chargers will have one year to decide whether or to move to Los Angeles or renegotiate and possibly build a new stadium in San Diego.
If the Chargers chose to stay in San Diego, the option to move to L.A. is given to the Raiders. The Raiders have also looked at relocating to San Antonio as an option since owner Mark Davis owns a parcel of land in the area. Meanwhile the Rams are expected to cease all operations in St. Louis by April.