Football is a game of inches. At the NFL level, it is also a game of dollars.
At Tuesday’s NFL owners meeting, franchises were moved around like so many multi-million dollar board game pieces.
The Rams, who called St. Louis home for 20 years, are moving back to Los Angeles where they were the home team from 1946-1994. The San Diego Chargers have been given the option to move to Los Angeles as well. And the Oakland Raiders folded their bid for the City of Angels, but the team’s final destination remains in flux.
Fans in all these cities awaited for the outcome. And when it came, the message from the NFL was best summed up by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: “Everybody won.”
New York Post writer Bart Hubbuch reported that Ross was pressed on his assertion of a win-win: What about St. Louis fans?
“Well, somebody has to lose,” Ross replied.
There certainly are people feeling like winners or losers today.
The front pages of newspapers in Los Angeles and St. Louis definitely convey different emotions, but it is impossible to measure if the joy of Los Angeles residents is greater than the sorrow of St. Louis fans.
The nostalgia and heartbreak in St. Louis was matched on social media with celebration on the West Coast.
Loser: St. Louis
To add insult to injury, not only has St. Louis lost its NFL team, but taxpayers could be on the hook for millions.
If the city, state or county cannot find a way to replace the revenue from the Rams’ lease, the cost will transfer to the taxpayers, the head of the St. Louis Regional Sports Authority told CNN affiliate KTVI
Nearly $130 million is still owed for the bonds that paid for Edward Jones Dome, KTVI reported. Before, the Rams organization paid $500,000 yearly to lease the stadium, and another $25,000 for the Rams Park training facility.
But it’s not all gloom. In an effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis, a task force created a proposal for a new stadium, estimated to cost just under $1 billion. Public financing for sports stadiums is increasingly controversial, and the plan floated in St. Louis would have added at least $350 million to the taxpayers’ tab.
Winner: Rams owner Stan Kroenke
He got what he wanted.
Three teams — and three powerful owners — were vying for one or two spots for teams in Los Angeles.
Kroenke successfully negotiated his way to Los Angeles, leaving San Diego to decide its future and Oakland out of luck this time.
He pulled it off by announcing plans for a new $1.9 billion stadium in Inglewood, California. The stadium, which the NFL owners also approved, will be the home of the Los Angeles Rams and possibly a second team.
St. Louis fans took Kroenke’s move as villainous.
The Kroenke family also owns a professional hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche, and one St. Louis Rams fan who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Avalanche made it personal.
Winner: Los Angeles football fans
A day ago, Los Angeles was an anomaly: A huge market without an NFL team.
Now, it has the Rams, and possibly, the Chargers, too.
There are still many details to be answered, but Los Angeles fans are excited.
Given the loss that St. Louis is feeling, some Los Angeles fans hid their glee better than others.