The NFL will return to the Southland, with National Football League owners approving plans Tuesday for the St. Louis Rams to move to a proposed stadium in Inglewood, with an option for the Chargers to share the facility if the team can't reach a viable stadium deal in San Diego.
FOX 11's Liz Habib is in Houston and got the news first hand.
The decision, made on a 30-2 vote by league owners in Houston, marks a long-awaited return of the NFL to the Los Angeles area, which hasn't had a team since 1994. The decision also opens the door for the city and county of San Diego to reopen negotiations with the Chargers to keep them from moving, while giving the team a safety net if such talks break down again.
But the deal is also a major snub to the city of Carson, where the Chargers and Raiders had planned to build a $1.7 billion, 72,000-seat stadium. With NFL owners rejecting that option, the Raiders pulled out of the deal, meaning that team will remain in Oakland -- at least for now.
For Inglewood, however, the decision is a major economic leap forward. Rams owner Stan Kroenke plans to build a $1.86 billion, 80,000-seat stadium to house his team on the site of the former Hollywood Park Race track.
It's unclear if the Chargers would actually join the Rams in Inglewood, with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos repeatedly insisting he was committed to the Carson project, and had no interest in simply being a tenant in a stadium owned by Kroenke. Spanos made his feelings clear on the topic in a letter he sent last month to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Spanos has wanted a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for around 15 years, a quest stymied by the city of San Diego's fiscal problems of a decade ago, the recession and difficulty in finding a suitable site.
When Kroenke proposed about a year ago building a stadium in Inglewood, the Chargers responded by announcing plans to construct their own playing facility in Carson -- possibly in concert with the Raiders.
The Chargers, who have played in San Diego for 55-years, contend that 25 percent of their business comes from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer countered by establishing a task force that recommended building a new facility next to Qualcomm Stadium.
The Chargers broke off negotiations on the proposal in June. The team's refusal to restart talks prevented what could have been a citywide vote on the proposal this month.
An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994.
The Los Angeles Raiders played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994, before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams played in the Coliseum from 1946-1979 and at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium from 1980-1994 before moving to St. Louis in 1995.
The Chargers played at the Coliseum in their inaugural 1960 season when they were a member of the American Football League, then moved to San Diego in 1961.
Statement from the Rams:
Following a vote from National Football League owners, the Rams officially have been approved to return to the greater Los Angeles area and will do so for the 2016 NFL season. The organization called Los Angeles home from 1946-1994.
"This has been the most difficult process of my professional career," said Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke. "While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet. St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people. Being part of the group that brought the NFL back to St. Louis in 1995 is one of the proudest moments of my professional career. Reaching two Super Bowls and winning one are things all St. Louisans should always treasure.
"While there understandably has been emotionally charged commentary regarding our motives and intentions, the speculation is not true and unfounded. I am a Missouri native named after two St. Louis sports legends who I was fortunate enough to know on a personal level. This move isn't about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will. No matter what anyone says, that will never change.
This decision is about what is in the best long-term interests of the Rams organization and the National Football League. We have negotiated in good faith with the Regional Sports Authority for more than a decade trying to find a viable and sustainable solution. When it became apparent that we might not be able to reach an agreement, it was then and only then that we looked at alternatives.
"We would like to thank the National Football League, its owners, and the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities for their diligence and dedication. We look forward to returning to Los Angeles and building a world-class NFL entertainment district in Inglewood."
Statement from Dean Spanos, Chairman, San Diego Chargers:
My goal from the start of this process was to create the options necessary to safeguard the future of the Chargers franchise while respecting the will of my fellow NFL owners. Today we achieved this goal with the compromise reached by NFL ownership.
The Chargers have been approved to relocate to Los Angeles, at the Inglewood location, at any time in the next year. In addition, the NFL has granted an additional $100 million in assistance in the event there is a potential solution that can be placed before voters in San Diego. I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers.