The Press Box Perspective
Please Think of the Fans
By Dan Hiner
After years of false alarms and NFL owners threatening to uproot their teams in an attempt to gain an edge at the bargaining table, the move has finally been announced.
On Tuesday night, the NFL announced the St. Louis Rams will move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season. Out of 32 NFL owners, 30 voted in favor of the move.
Most of us don’t remember the last time LA had a professional football team. The NFL hasn’t had a team in Los Angeles since the 1994 season with the Rams and the Raiders. The Rams played at Anaheim Stadium and the Raiders played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
But should LA get another chance at NFL? LA had the Raiders, Chargers and Rams in the past, but in the end every team has eventually left the city. The Chargers moved to San Diego in 1961 and the Raiders moved to Oakland in 1994.
The biggest reason for the moves usually involved money, and they would defend their actions by saying it was a business decision. But in the end, the fans were usually the ones who suffered. However, the loss of the LA teams didn’t affect the LA fans the way it impacted Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts fans.
Most residents of Youngstown remember the loss of the Browns in 1996. So maybe we’re more aware of the impact it has on the team’s supporters. After the announcement was made, videos and pictures were taken of LA fans celebrating in the streets, but national news organizations didn’t show the St. Louis fans after the realization that they would no longer have the team they’ve supported for the past 21 years.
When the Browns and Colts left their original cities, the fans voiced public outcry and wanted to fight for the teams to stay in their cities, but the LA fans were, for the most part, accepting of the moves.
LA fans seemed to successfully move on from the loss of the Raiders in 1994 and adopted the University of Southern California as the de facto “professional” football team for the city.
Don’t get me wrong; the LA fans usually fill the seats for their teams. The attendance at the games was never an issue, but the financing from the city has caused problems in the past.
But should the NFL push to move a team to LA just because the population is bigger and the profit margin for the league could increase? Don’t the fans’ emotions play a part in the franchise’s decision?
Some NFL owners view their teams as an extension of business, and the only reason they own the team is for the recognition of owning a professional sports franchise and the additional revenue from the season.
Maybe before the NFL owners start using St. Louis as another bargaining chip, they should take into consideration the effect moving their franchise would have on the people who have supported their franchise for decades.
The Rams aren’t the only team trying to move to LA in the near future. The Chargers and the Raiders are also considering moving from their current homes, but hopefully their ownership groups will take into consideration the betrayal that could be felt by the people that supported their “business” over the years.