The Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles after the 1994 season. Rumbles out of both franchises indicate that they might want to return to America’s second-largest media market. Absence makes the heart grow fonder–or at least the absence of a tax-funded, modern stadium does.
“We’re not done in Oakland. We’re trying really hard, and we’ll see howthat goes,” Raiders co-owner Mark Davis told the Bay Area’s Comcast Sports outlet. “But Los Angeles is something that I’vedefinitely thought about and haven’t pursued. There are other places aswell. Until we can find out if Oakland is real, then I’m still stayingin Oakland. If we can get something done in Oakland, I will stay inOakland.”
Davis said that he’s hopeful he can work out a deal with Oakland mayor Jean Quan. She wants to resolve the stadium situation by the summer. Davis points out that she issued a similar deadline for the end of the football season that came and went. Should Oakland depart, it would leave the San Francisco-Oakland in a situation similar to the one Los Angeles faced in the mid-1990s. Instead of hosting two NFL franchises, the region would in a sense have none given the departure of the ’49ers for Levi Stadium down south in Santa Clara. They’re still called the “San Francisco ’49ers.” But they’ll play more than an hour from San Francisco, albeit still on the outer edges of the Bay Area.
In January, NFL Commissioner downplayed the significance of reports that Rams owner Stan Kroenke had purchased sixty acres between the Forum and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles. “Stan is a very large developer on a global basis,” Goodell explained on January 31. “He has land throughout the country and throughout the world.”
Either team could depart from their current cities quite soon. The Rams’ lease with the Edward Jones Dome requires it to remain a top-tier NFL stadium, which by most rankings it isn’t. Given this unusual contractual clause, the Rams could depart after the 2015 season. The Raiders enjoy a year-to-year lease with the Oakland Coliseum. They have no obligation to remain as tenants beyond the 2014 season.
Los Angeles has gone two decades without an NFL franchise. The city lured the Rams from Cleveland after World War II. The Raiders, who departed like the Rams in 1995, began playing in Los Angeles in 1982.