David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The NFL announced on Tuesday that the Rams would be coming back to Los Angeles after a 21-year absence.
For most Los Angeles residents, this was welcome news, as many have yearned to see an NFL team return to the Southland for decades.
“With the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a major proponent of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid.
“We cannot wait to welcome the Rams, and perhaps others soon, as they join a storied lineup of professional franchises, collegiate powerhouses and sports media companies,” he added.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers have until January 2017 to join the Rams in the Inglewood project, while the Raiders have the option to do the same if the Chargers decline.
Regardless of what happens with the Chargers and the Raiders, the Rams are coming.
Here’s a graphic on the history of the NFL in Los Angeles:
For people like me who have never truly had an NFL team, it is a joyous occasion.
While I’ve always favored the Chargers and Raiders on Sundays, Angelenos will no longer have to halfheartedly root for a team hundreds of miles away.
Let’s make this clear, now is the perfect and only time to jump on the Los Angeles Rams bandwagon.
The team has a fantastic young core built around Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, an owner who isn’t afraid to spend money, and a media market that answers only to one other city.
Let me explain to you why this NFL stint in Los Angeles will not only be nothing like the past, but it will be one of the most profitable, successful and entertaining teams in the country.
The last season the Los Angeles Rams played here was in 1994.
In 1994, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 9 million people living in Los Angeles County.
And in 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that over 10 million people live in Los Angeles County.
This is a simple concept to understand. The population increase equals more people who potentially support the NFL.
Another important piece of information that has changed from 1994 compared to now is that the Raiders were also still located in Los Angeles at the time the Rams moved to St. Louis after the 1994 season.
This gave locals two NFL teams, splitting the fan base essentially in half, not to mention the already-strong contingent of San Diego Chargers fans living in Los Angeles at the time.
Barring any surprising decisions from the Chargers or Raiders, the Rams will be the sole NFL team in Los Angeles for the 2016 season and should enjoy a new, young and excited fan base.
Now is this time to become a Los Angeles Rams fan.
Not in two years, when Todd Gurley has turned into the best running back in the NFL, when Aaron Donald becomes the next J.J. Watt or when the Rams are enjoying success in their first couple of seasons back home in Los Angeles.
Do not be one of the fans who supported the Lakers until after the 2011 season, only to turn to the dark side and become a Clippers fan when the purple and gold’s success started to diminish.
We’re better than that, Los Angeles.
Of course, some of you are going to have loyalties to the Chargers and Raiders, which I completely understand.
I am not asking you to abandon the team you have followed and supported for years.
I’m speaking to the Los Angeles sports fans like myself who have never really had an NFL team.
Do not hesitate to immerse yourself in Rams culture and start becoming a die hard today.
When the new team jersey’s and memorabilia comes out, nothing should stop you from purchasing some fan gear.
The NFL is a league of its own, and the fact that Los Angeles has been robbed of a team for the past 21 years is a travesty in itself.
It does not matter if, despite the team’s young core and bright future, they do not succeed immediately once moving to Los Angeles.
What matters is that as a city, we create a new fan base, filled with people young and old, to support and back this team 100 percent of the time, every day of the year.
For those who have supported the Chargers or Raiders, you shouldn’t hate the Rams, either.
This is simply an incredible opportunity for our city to represent itself in the NFL and for other fans throughout the city to get involved and start becoming a fan of the game.
Loyalty trumps all, so root for your Raiders and Chargers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support the Rams, too. (Just not when they play each other.)
The Rams allegedly failed in 1994 due to stadium issues (clearly won’t be an issue this go around) and owner problems with Georgia Frontiere. (Stan Kroenke just moved the team here himself.)
At the core of these issues is money, an issue Kroenke and the Rams will not struggle with in 2016.
After a bitter dispute between Frontiere and the NFL, the owners begrudgingly allowed the team to move to St. Louis, despite the dissent of six teams owners (Steelers, Giants, Jets, Bills, Cardinals, and Redskins).
With young, talented players, a new $2 billion stadium and a growing population that doesn’t have a favorite NFL team , the Rams are in prime position to become one of the most successful teams in the nation.
The Rams will play at the Los Angeles Coliseum until the new stadium is ready in 2019.
David Rosenthal is a web producer for CBS Los Angeles. David lives in Los Angeles and is a Dodgers, Kings, and Lakers fan. If you have any questions or comments for him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org