Rams, Raiders Move to L.A.?
To which I say: Donít hold your breath.
Ironically, this is very near the site that Carmen Policy had picked out for the then Los Angeles Raiders and another unspecified team. Carmen, then the 49ers president, did not want the Raiders to move back to the Bay Area, not just because of the competition but the fact that he didnít want to have to deal regularly with Al Davis.
Of course, Davis never wanted to cooperate with anybody, so he turned his back on that plan and moved his team back to Oakland, a city he should never have left. Why? Pick your reason. He didnít have money to put into a new stadium, he didnít want to share it with another team, he wanted to spite Policy. Thereís truth in all those.
Whatever, he was right to move the team back to Oakland where it had been loved. There was no such love in Los Angeles where teams have to win championships or face acres of empty seats. The only team which gets consistent support is USC because it graduates so many professional people who support the team enthusiastically. Otherwise, itís win or else.
The Rams had found that out earlier. They drew huge crowds early on when they had a wide open offense in the Ď50s, with Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin throwing to Elroy Hirsch, Tom Fears, Bob Boyd and others. Van Brocklin had one game in which he threw for a then-record 554 yards.
But when the Rams declined, so did their attendance, precipitously. Carroll Rosenbloom moved the team to Anaheim, which might have been in another state as far as Los Angelenos were concerned. I talked to the teamís ticket manager after two seasons and he said their season ticket base had turned over almost completely.
When Rosenbloom died, his widow, Georgia, moved the team to St. Louis. That worked only for the brief period in the late Ď90s when the Rams had an explosive offense, directed by Kurt Warner.
The reality is that St. Louis has been a baseball town for a very long time. Theyíve had three pro football teams (the Cardinals in the All American Conference, who quickly moved to Chicago were the first, followed by the NFL Cardinals, who moved to the Phoenix area) and none have consistently prospered.
The baseball Cardinals, though, have long been a force because they draw fans from a huge area in the middle of the country and their radio broadcasts have penetrated that area for many years. My wife has a sister who lives in a small town which is equal distance from Memphis and Nashville and she listens to Cardinal games regularly. Baseball is the only sport which gets her attention.
Conversely, Dallas is an example of a city which is crazy about football and cares relatively little about the other sports.
If a city has a choice, a baseball team is the better one because people are much more likely to patronize local restaurants. If they come in from a distance, theyíll likely stay over at least a night, which benefits hotels and restaurants. So, the Giants have contributed far more to the San Francisco economy than the 49ers ever did.
The Rams owner has said heíd build a football stadium with his own money, but it would be a bad investment. The current Rams team would draw very poorly unless they improve markedly.
Would a new stadium entice the Raiders? Only if Mark Davis is as crazy as his father. The Raiders have a loyal fan base in Oakland. Their only fans in Los Angeles are those who are out on parole.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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