1995 was the year that Los Angeles lost two football teams. The Rams fled to St. Louis, and the Raiders made for Oakland. Since they left, there's been a heck of a lot of energy expended to bring the NFL back to the city—stadiums planned then scrapped; dreams built then crushed. It all paid off in the end because Los Angeles finally, definitely has a football team again—the LA Rams will get a new stadium in Inglewood (it's scheduled to be complete in 2019). And with that all-important football game this weekend, we're taking a look back at Los Angeles's ultimately successful 21-year fight to bring the NFL back to LA.
1995: According to a January 1995 LA Times article, Hollywood Park CEO RD Hubbard announces that he's secured a good chunk of financing for a football stadium at the Inglewood park. (Unfortunately, within this same year, the Raiders will be on their way back to Oakland and the Rams will make for St. Louis anyway.)
1996: Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley launches a feasibility study for a football stadium in Chavez Ravine, says a January 1996 LA Times article. O'Malley is the son of Walter O'Malley, the owner under whom the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn (and the one responsible for Dodger Stadium).
1999: The NFL approved an expansion franchise for LA but only if a stadium site could be found and financing secured. That didn't happen and by October the team had been given to Houston instead.
2002: Billionaire Philip Anschutz of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which developed LA Live, and Hollywood royalty/arena-football-team owner Casey Wasserman cop to having a plan to put a privately financed football stadium in South Park, next to the Staples Center.
2002: The Rose Bowl hires a consultant to frame the iconic college football venue as a perfect place for the NFL.
2003: An ad hoc LA City Council committee names the LA Memorial Coliseum the best location for an NFL reboot.
2003: Meanwhile, in Carson, the NFL is actively negotiating with talent agent Michael Ovitz and a San Diego developer over whether or not to put a stadium on a giant piece of land next to the Home Depot Center.
2003: NFL owners vote almost unanimously to look into an LA stadium, allotting $30 million to do so, but never spend the money.
2005: Mayor Villarigosa meets with the NFL Commissioner. They reach a preliminary agreement to bring a team back to Los Angeles.
2005: It's revealed that then-Dodgers-owner Frank McCourt has a secret plan to court the NFL and unseat the Coliseum as the best potential NFL venue in LA by building a new football stadium in Chavez Ravine next to Dodger Stadium. "The NFL appeared receptive to McCourt's building a stadium on Dodger property but reluctant to grant him a team."
2006: Pasadenans vote down a proposal that would have set aside money for renovations to the Rose Bowl that, once completed, could have accommodated an NFL team.
2007: Mayor Villaraigosa gives up on the Coliseum as an NFL-appropriate location.
2008: Edward Roski Jr.'s City of Industry stadium plan is born.
2008: Beverly Hills developer Richard Rand sniffs around in Carson for a suitable NFL stadium site.
2010: A stadium in Downtown's South Park starts to seem real again when AEG reveals three sets of renderings for the proposed stadium and sports complex. Still, a veteran reporter at the press conference for the release says that "given how many times a stadium, and bringing back football to LA, has been talked about in past years, this event 'feels like groundhog day.'"
2011: South Park's stadium gets a name: Farmers Field, for the insurance company that bought the naming rights for $700 million.
2012: Meanwhile, in Carson, the plan to build an NFL-friendly stadium is hanging on by a thread. At this point, Rand still only owns 12 acres of the 91 environmentally tainted acres he'd like for his sports/entertainment/retail complex, but let's not sweat the small stuff.
2013: New Dodger owners Guggenheim Partners want to bring the NFL to Chavez Ravine...
2013: ...But the prospect of working with Frank McCourt and his drama (he sold the Dodgers but still owned a lot of the stadium land), all the work that would have to go into traffic mitigation and noise issues, plus the project's likelihood of being a "litigation magnet" all seemed to make this possibility seem less enticing to the NFL.
2014: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke buys 60 acres in Inglewood and, despite all the previous points in this timeline, people get very excited.
2014: AEG asks for and gets a six-month extension on the deadline to secure a team for Farmers Field.
2014: The NFL is totally coming to LA within the next couple years, say mysterious sources within the NFL.
2015: Kroenke announces he's partnering with Stockbridge Capital, which is building a huge mixed-use campus on the site of Hollywood Park in Inglewood, on an NFL stadium. Renderings are revealed for a giant, 80,000-seat stadium and special events venue complex. History repeats.
An old Inglewood stadium rendering (left) and the most recent.
2015: The Inglewood stadium collects more than twice the signatures it needs to get a proposal regarding the football stadium on the Inglewood ballot, possibly as soon as this summer.
2015: In February, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders drop a bomb, proposing a joint stadium in Carson on a site that includes land that was formerly a landfill. (Later designs also include a cool lightning tower.) So now LA has TWO possible stadiums and three possible teams.
2015: Inglewood fast-tracks its stadium proposal, helping it avoid the environmental review process via a ballot initiative. Carson follows suit.
2015: Farmers Field reminds people it's not dead yet by hiring a consultant to evaluate the Inglewood stadium; that consultant, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, ends up finding that the Inglewood stadium is a big, shiny target for terrorists. Farmers Field backers/LA Live owners AEG goes to some outlandish lengths to try and keep the dream of a Downtown football field alive, but the plan dies anyway.
2015: The NFL, now faced with three teams who want to move to LA, is torn over who to move. Adding to the relocation troubles is the fact that no one but the Coliseum seems to want to host an NFL team while its stadium gets built. The idea of two teams in Inglewood appears, but the year ends with zero real resolutions on the NFL in LA.
2016: All three teams announce their official interest in moving to LA, filing formally for relocation with the NFL.
2016: In the second week of January, reports surface that there's a proposal for the Rams to go to LA and be joined in Inglewood by the Chargers. The next day, the NFL announces that the Rams are definitely cleared to relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles. St. Louis weeps.
2016: After putting out an odd, two-sentence statement, the Rams and Chargers reveal only that they are talking to each other, but make no mention of what those talks or about.
2016: In late January, the Chargers put out another cryptic statement—this time alone—stating that while they're kind of still keeping their Los Angeles option open, they'd really like to stay in San Diego and get a new stadium. They've got a year to cash in their moving chips and head north to LA. (And if they don't, that might open the relocation option to the Raiders.) It appears that LA's football saga isn't totally over yet.
· Farmers Field [Curbed LA]
· NFL Stadium [Curbed LA]