Will the St. Louis Rams become the Los Angeles Rams?
Southern California football fans have been tantalized by the possibility of again having a hometown NFL team for what, at this point, feels like forever. Just when it looks like there's been a major breakthrough, there's a new wrinkle.
"Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, chairman of the NFL's stadium committee, had a simple message this week for St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who has announced plans to build an 80,000-seat football venue in Inglewood: Not so fast," reports The Times' Sam Farmer.
" ‘There are still cards to be played,’ " Rooney told The Times in his first public comments since Kroenke unveiled his vision for a state-of-the-art stadium on the Hollywood Park site. " ‘There's still a process that has to work its way out, and we don't know what the outcome's going to be yet. That's why we have league committees and approval processes.’ "
And you thought the Soviet Union went away in 1991.
Even in the most capitalist all-American pastime/major corporation -- the National Football League -- there are apparatchiks to be sated, forms to be filled out in triplicate and countless exploratory committees to consider to appoint commissions to form a panel to issue a preliminary report to consider the possibility of allowing the proletariat of a southwestern U.S. semi-autonomous oblast to pay hundreds of dollars to watch grown men chase balls for several seconds per minute between million-dollar commercials.
Believe it or not, things actually still look good. "The NFL does not have a strong track record in blocking teams from relocating," notes Farmer.
In the meantime, however, the byzantine nature of the process is harrowing for local sports fans.
"The Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are all unhappy with their current stadium situations and have the yearly option to get out of their leases…. If three teams apply for relocation, but there are only two vacancies in L.A., one of those franchises would have to go back to the city it tried to leave, with severely diminished leverage for getting a new stadium," writes Farmer.
" ‘That's why we have a process and why it's incumbent on the league's committees and league staff to manage the process so that, to the greatest extent possible, we exhaust the possibility of a team remaining in its home market,’ " said Art Rooney II, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the NFL's stadium committee. " ‘We don't want to have a team that gets itself in a situation where it has to file an application and go through a process where at the end of the day it could wind up being a lame duck, or even worse, having to go back to a city it attempted to move from.’ "
My best advice for fans, though I know they're not going to take it, is: Think about something else. Worrying is not going to make any difference.
Follow Ted Rall on Twitter @tedrall