Sports

Los Angeles Rams close to finalizing deal to hold spring practices in Oxnard

After weeks of weighing their options, the Rams are beginning to finalize plans for their first year back in Los Angeles.

The Oxnard City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement with the team to hold spring practices in the city – on the same site where the Dallas Cowboys stage their training camp.

The River Ridge fields would host the Rams from April 18 through June 17, according to the proposed contract between the team and city.

“We have zeroed in on Oxnard for our initial off-season football operations as it is the most turn-key site available given the field access and the adjacent hotel space,” Kevin Demoff, Rams executive vice president of football operations, told The Times. “The goal is to allow our coaches, players and football staff to be able to concentrate on football without having to worry about an environment that has never hosted an NFL team.”

Because the Cowboys are coming back to Oxnard this summer, the Rams need to go elsewhere for training camp. Demoff said the club has talked with a number of universities in Southern California “to find a training camp site that meets the needs of both our team and our fans.” He hopes to decide on a site by the end of March. He said the franchise has had discussions with UC Irvine, which previously hosted the Rams.

At the end of training camp, the Rams plan to move into what they will call their “permanent temporary facility,” which will serve as their base for football operations for the next few years while their permanent football facility is being built. That is not expected to be located in Inglewood, where a new stadium is on track to be constructed by 2019.

“The searches for both the temporary facility and permanent facility are underway,” Demoff wrote in an email. “The most important consideration for our organization from a relocation standpoint right now is finding a training site that can become a home community for our players, coaches and staff for years to come.”

At the moment, the Oxnard agreement is closest to completion. According to the contract with the city, the Rams would use the locker room facilities from March 28-June 24. Oxnard would receive $510 a day from the Rams for use of the grass practice fields, $680 a day for use of the locker rooms.

The agreement calls for the Rams to maintain the fields and provide bleachers and security. The cost of fencing in and around the fields would be split by the team and city.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Scott Whitney, Oxnard’s assistant city manager and point person on the deal. “It just really worked out for [the Rams].”

Whitney said that language about one or more practices being open to the public was put in the contract in case the Rams elected to do so. He isn’t aware of anything that’s planned at this point.

“The Rams really don’t have anything scheduled yet,” he said. “If they’re able to do something, we’re ready.”

The Rams participated in two days of practices with the Cowboys in Oxnard last August. Whitney does not anticipate a long-term relationship between the Rams and Oxnard.

“They’ve indicated this is going to be a one-year agreement,” he said, “but I don’t know if they’ve found a permanent home for spring practices, so you never know.”

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