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The Rams Return to Los Angeles: How Will They Do?

It’s now official: the Rams are heading back to Los Angeles, home of the team from 1946 to 1994. The Rams played in Cleveland during the team’s first decade of existence before heading the league’s westward expansion after World Warr II. The Rams played in Memorial Coliseum from ’46 to ’79, before moving to Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1994. It is still unclear where the team will play in the short term, although a return to the Coliseum seems likely. But beginning in 2019, the team will play in Inglewood, California.

A three-year period at an interim stadium is an interesting phenomenom to analyze, and will probably be worthwhile to examine in say, three years. In general, teams have only a minimal home field advantage during year one in a new home, so a three-year window at the Coliseum could hurt the Rams on-field product a little bit (and the same goes for the 2019 season at the new stadium). But for now, let’s look at the bigger move across the country.

The Rams are the 11th team1 since 1960 to make a significant franchise relocation.2 In general, these teams have fared pretty well relative to their play in the prior year, although that may cloud the issue (the ’95 Browns being a famous example of a team floundering in its final season in a city).

New YearOld TeamNew TeamYr N-1 RecordYr N RecordOld HCNew HC
2015St. Louis RamsLos Angeles Rams7-9??Jeff FisherJeff Fisher
1997Houston OilersTennessee Oilers8-88-8Jeff FisherJeff Fisher
1996Cleveland BrownsBaltimore Ravens5-114-12Bill BelichickTed Marchibroda
1995Los Angeles RaidersOakland Raiders9-78-8Art ShellMike White
1995Los Angeles RamsSt. Louis Rams4-127-9Chuck KnoxRich Brooks
1988St. Louis CardinalsPhoenix Cardinals7-87-9Gene StallingsGene Stallings
1984Baltimore ColtsIndianapolis Colts7-94-12Frank KushFrank Kush
1982Oakland RaidersLos Angeles Raiders7-98-1Tom FloresTom Flores
1963Dallas TexansKansas City Chiefs11-35-7-2Hank StramHank Stram
1961Los Angeles ChargersSan Diego Chargers10-412-2Sid GillmanSid Gillman
1960Chicago CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals2-106-5-1Pop IvyPop Ivy

The good news for the Rams: their head coach has experience at this sort of thing! Of course, how the 2016 Rams fare is hardly the big issue here. So I’ll open this one up to the comments: how do you feel about the Rams returning to Los Angeles?

  1. Note that while the NFL doesn’t consider the 1996 Ravens an extension of the 1995 Browns, for the intent of this post, it makes sense to treat them as such. []
  2. By significant, I’m excluding things like the Titans moving from Memphis to Nashville, the Jets moving to Long Island to New Jersey, the Patriots moving around Massachusetts, and so on. []
  • Honestly, the only thing this means to me is that I have to update some acronyms in my database. If the team decides to go back to their super cool LA Rams jerseys, that would be a sweet bonus.

    Side note: what makes a move from LA to San Diego more significant than from Memphis to Nashville? The distance between the two Tennessee cities is over 100 miles greater than the distance between the two California cities, so the players and staff would presumably still have to uproot their families again in order to make the move.

    • JeremyDeShetler

      I would have lost money betting on which pair of cities were closer. I didn’t realize that the driving distance between the Tennessee cities is so far apart. Same as between DC and New York.

    • TN

      The move to Memphis was always intended to be a stopgap – the Oilers franchise moved to Nashville, but at first there was no place in that city for the team to play. From wikipedia:

      The Oilers’ new stadium would not be ready until 1999, however, and the largest stadium in Nashville at the time, Vanderbilt Stadium on the campus of Vanderbilt University, seated only 41,000. At first, Bud Adams rejected Vanderbilt Stadium even as a temporary facility and announced that the renamed Tennessee Oilers would play the next two seasons at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. The team would be based in Nashville, commuting to Memphis only for games—in effect, consigning the Oilers to 32 road games for the next two years.

      • That explains much. Probably not much uprooting taking place under those circumstances (not that uprooting is something players don’t do yearly).

        • Richie

          I wonder what percent of players lives year-round in the cities they play for. 10%? 80%? I have no clue.

    • Tom

      Bryan – I was thinking the same thing. Do I go back to “RAM”? Or how about “LAR”, so it somewhat fits alphabetically by City?

      • Richie

        My idea of the correct abbreviation for every team is based on what the LA Times would use for box scores. For the most part, their abbreviations made sense – it was the first 3 letters of the city. Unless it was a 2-word city, then it was the initials of the city. And, if a city had two teams, they would add the initial of the team (NYG, NYJ). That still wouldn’t work in Los Angeles, because both teams would be LAR, so they went with RAM and RAI instead. But, the one that never made sense was that they would use “stl” instead of “SL” for St Louis. And, I always hate when anybody uses JAX. There is no “X” in the word Jacksonville.

        PFR already uses RAM for the Rams, so no need for them to change. Going forward I will most likely just use LA. But that won’t work for systems that require a 3-letter abbreviation. Using LAR would be problematic if the Raiders end up moving here as well. I think you should use either LA or LOS, depending on your needs. Then, figure out how to change things if the Chargers or Raiders join them.

        • I have to think long and hard about my abbreviations because I have code tied to them for the tables on my website. My code for LARM corresponds to the blue and yellow LA Rams jerseys, while my code for STL has the dark blue and weird goldish color.

          Personally, I prefer JAX for Jacksonville because it is a three letter key that sounds like “Jacks.” I wish I could say there was a more complicated or important reason than that, but there isn’t. I just like the way it sounds.

          I used LARM and LARD for the LA teams because I think lard is awesome and wanted the Rams to match the Raiders in style. I have LAC for the first Chargers year, and I’m not sure if I should change it if they go back from whence they came. All my abbreviations and their colors are here. http://www.thegridfe.com/glossary/

          • Richie

            Yeah, this database stuff can get tricky sometimes. You don’t think about it until you have to deal with it.

            I’ve been working on a website for motocross racing. The premier class changed from being called “250” to “450” about 15 years ago due to technology changes. I haven’t totally decided how I want to handle it. Basically everybody who was in the 250 class went to the 450 class when the change was made. But I do want to recognize that the class changed. To complicate things a new 250 class was created at that same time.

            Databases and coding do not like ambiguity.

        • Quinton White

          Not trying to speak for everyone from Jax but I grew up there and have actually always liked the Jax abbreviation. It’s the airport code and I’d be willing to bet is the most common abbreviation locals use. The difference between someone who uses Jax and Jacks can be an indicator if they’re from the city or not.

          • Richie

            Interesting.

            The town I grew up in is called Newbury Park. You could always tell outsiders because they would just call it “Newbury”. But people who lived there never called it that.

  • Richie

    I live in the Los Angeles suburbs. I liked the Rams when they were here before, but the Dolphins were still my favorite team then.

    I have often wondered if the Rams had stayed here, and still had the Kurt Warner-Marshall Faulk success, if I would have migrated from being a Dolphins fan to a Rams fan. My association with the Dolphins exists because of a decision I made when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t a Rams fan, mainly because I had a tendency to not want to “go with the crowd” when I was younger.

    Yesterday, the Rams probably moved up to being my second favorite team. Only time will tell if they overtake the Dolphins.

    Having said that, I have no idea if I’ll go to any/many games. The hassle of going to live, major, sporting events generally exceeds my desire to be there. Going to a game would probably be a 6-7 hour commitment (including driving) for me, and I usually decide it’s not worth it.

    But, I bet the stadium is packed on opening day 2016.

    • Tom

      Richie – gotta comment on this. I’m also from the Los Angeles area, and I too made the decision to be a Dolphins fan when I was a kid, and I know why: during the early 1970’s when they won their Super Bowls, their logo was showcased (because they were the champs) in the Christmas catalogs that would come out (Sears, JC Penney’s, Montgomery Wards, etc.), and I think I just fell in love with the look of it (I also believe that my older brother is a die-hard Steelers fan for the same reason – he just jumped on the bandwagon as a kid). Like you, I remained a fan as I got older…I shed tears when they lost the “Game That No One Should Have Lost” against the Chargers in the 1982 Divisional Playoffs.

      I’ve since moved on to not having a favorite team at all, until today, when my team will now officially be the Rams.

      • Richie

        Sounds like I’m probably a decade younger than you. I really started getting into football right around 1982-1984, when Dan Marino started doing his thing, so that’s how I stuck with the Dolphins.

        I used to love catalogs like that. Just thumbing through the NFL section was so exciting. I think part of why I became an NFL fan was just because of how cool all the NFL logos looked to me. The other sports don’t have logos that are quite as cool. Almost every NBA team has a basketball included in their logo. And so many baseball teams have either initials (NY, SF, LA, etc.) or the team name in their logo. But NFL logos seem so more creative.

      • Can you imagine:

        1) Anything today that has merchandise for “only” 20 teams?

        2) If the answer to 1 was yes, can you imagine the Patriots and Giants not being 1 of the 20?

        • Richie

          That’s funny. Space was at a premium then. I guess if they didn’t sell much Patriots or Giants gear, it just wasn’t worth including.

          But did they really sell less of that than the Falcons?

          It looks like the other 4 missing teams were Oilers, Chargers, Colts and Saints. I can believe that those teams weren’t big sellers. All 4 were last in their divisions in 1973. The Giants were also last, but the Patriots were 5-9 and 3rd in the 5-team east.

          • Trepur

            Boston wasn’t a big football town in the 70s, they cared about the Red Sox and Celtics, not the Patriots.

            It wasn’t until the Bledsoe-Carrol Super Bowl appearance that the Patriots popularity took off.

    • Thanks for sharing, Richie. As a NYer, this stuff doesn’t really touch me, so it’s good to hear local perspectives. I agree that going to a game *is* a huge commitment.

      • Richie

        I don’t live in a city, and can’t imagine ever doing so. I hate being in the crowded city, dealing with parking, enclosed spaces, etc.

        However, occasionally, the idea of living so close to a stadium that you could walk or take public transportation would be appealing. If I could get on a shuttle and be at a stadium in 20 minutes and not have to worry about parking, I would probably be much more interested in attending games.

        But living in a suburb, not only do I have to deal with the hassle of stadium parking and traffic around the stadium, but I have a minimum 45-minute drive just to get close to a stadium.

        It’s so nice when musicians I like have concerts at the local civic arts center. 5 minutes to get there and easy parking. Unfortunately, it’s rare.

  • Richie

    It may be too early, but has anybody heard or read anything about WHY the Rams ended up getting the nod?

    I really thought that with the Raiders and Chargers planning to build a stadium together, and St Louis’ willingness to contribute $300M for a new stadium that the league would go with the Raiders-Chargers proposal.

    Was the league just wowed by the stadium plans in Inglewood? The renderings of the plan are pretty impressive: http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-nfl-la-relocation-20160112-story.html

    I’ve also heard mention of NCAA Final Fours being played there. I’m not clear if that would be in the football stadium, or if they are also building an arena. But even so, would the NFL care about that?

    • JeremyDeShetler

      Money. From what I’ve read/heard, Kroenke didn’t want to go back to St Louis and was ready to write the check to fully fund the Inglewood stadium at the owner’s meeting. Also, the Inglewood plan blew away the Carson plan, plus the Rams offered to let the Chargers join them in Ingelwood.

      I imagine the NFL wouldn’t care too much about Final Fours unless one of their owners owned the stadium and would therefore reap the benefits, possibly offsetting some of the cost of owning a stadium. It could also be more PR for the league, as if they need it. How many times in the 2014 Final Four did they mention Jerry Jones or the Cowboys or Jerry World?

  • sacramento gold miners

    The new LA Rams will definitely need to address the QB vacuum, and it’s worth noting Brock Osweiler will be a free agent. Also, I think we need to differentiate when teams relocate. After this season, the St. Louis Rams are dead, just like the Houston Oilers expired when they became the Tennessee Titans. Kurt Warner brought up the great point on how his St. Louis era will be received by the fans in Los Angeles, those folks didn’t experience the great times in the early 2000s. It’s just not the same, and by next season, many thousands of former St. Louis Rams fans won’t be following the second coming of the LA Rams.

    St. Louis is now a two time loser in the NFL, and they may never get another team. It’s a devastating setback to lose America’s pastime. While the MLB Cardinals have been very successful, the NHL Blues have never lifted the Stanley Cup, going on 50 years.