HOUSTON, TEXAS (KTVI) - NFL owners meeting late Tuesday night in Houston voted to relocate the St. Louis Rams and potentially, the San Diego Chargers to the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, California, in time for the 2016 season.
The move, by a 30-2 vote seemingly brings an end to a St. Louis bid to keep the Rams in Missouri with a new downtown riverfront stadium that Rams owner Stan Kroenke didn't support, and that league officials said as recently as this weekend did not meet the requirements necessary for NFL to oppose the relocation of the Rams.
"I have been open about this process. This process has been happening since 2002. I understand the emotional argument. But, this is not something that you want to do. But when you have a history, and a lease, that is part of the reason the team moved there. The lease requires certain things. As an owner, to be able to appeal to our fans, we have to have a first class stadium." said Rams owner Stan Kroenke at a press conference.
"The promise was made. There was a very detailed requirement for community engagement, which we followed. So, what I would say is that I understand the emotional side. But, I have a responsibility to take care of the organization and to my 31 other partners to have a first class facility. It is where they play too." said Kroenke.
NFL owners began the voting process Tuesday afternoon with each proposal, Inglewood and Carson, voted on. Stan Kroenke nearly got the 24 votes needed to move the franchise to Los Angeles and have the stadium to himself. FOX 2 Sports Director Marin Kilcoyne reported that the initial vote on the Inglewood/Rams proposal was 21 for, 8 against, with 3 owners abstaining. Twenty-four votes are required for approval.
Earlier Tuesday, the league's six-member committee on relocation to Los Angeles recommended the other owners back a project that would see the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers share a stadium in Carson, California. The six owners who make up the committee are: Art Rooney II (Pittsburgh Steelers, committee chairman); Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers); Robert Kraft (New England Patriots); Robert McNair (Houston Texans); John Mara (New York Giants); and Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs).
In the end, the Rams will be the first team permitted to move to Los Angeles.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which operates the Edward Jones Dome, had signed a lease with the Rams that would allow the team to leave St. Louis if the dome was not among the top eight stadiums by 2015. As such, the team entered a year-to-year lease deal with the dome ahead of the 2015 NFL season.
City leaders have long held the belief that Kroenke was never interested in keeping the team in St. Louis. He would not meet with local and state officials, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said exactly one year ago. To this day, Kroenke and Slay have yet to meet.
As of January 2016, Kroenke has a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to Forbes. He’s paid for the Pepsi Center in Denver, where his hockey and basketball teams play, and covered the costs of building a new stadium for his Arsenal soccer team in London.
The impasse between Kroenke and the city led to plans for a new NFL stadium along the St. Louis riverfront, just north of downtown. In December 2015, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a financing package for a $1.1 billion stadium by a 17-10 vote. But on Monday, January 4, the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders all filed relocation paperwork with the NFL.
Kroenke announced plans last January to build a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood at Hollywood Park, site of the former horse track. His proposed stadium would carry an estimated price tag of $1.9 billion. That doesn't include the $550 franchise relocation fee.