On January 17, 1995, after years of poor attendance at home games and poor on-field performance, Los Angeles Rams ownership announces the team will move to St. Louis. The relocation, which the league initially resisted, ends a 49-year run in Los Angeles for a team that is no stranger to moving.
Founded as the Cleveland Rams in 1936, the Rams became the first NFL team in California when they moved to Los Angeles for the 1946 season. They won the NFL championship in 1951 and from 1973-1979, the Rams dominated the NFC West, advancing to the Super Bowl in 1979. By 1995, however, these glory days were a distant memory.
The 1980 move to Anaheim Stadium, a baseball-specific venue in the suburbs of Los Angeles, compounded the franchise’s malaise. The stadium made it harder to sell out games, leading to local television blackouts (a standard practice in American pro sports meant to incentivize locals to attend in-person).
However, the combination of an uninspiring on-field product and a stadium located far from the center of Los Angeles severely depressed attendance numbers. The team became an afterthought.
Owner Georgia Frontiere, who had inherited a controlling stake in the franchise upon the death of her husband, sought to move the team to her native St. Louis. The most vocal opposition came not from the city of Los Angeles but from the NFL and its owners, whose assent was necessary for a move. The owners initially voted against the move. But after Frontiere threatened to sue, owners held a second vote and approved the move, 23-6.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue cited “the desire to have peace and not be at war “ as a decisive factor in the vote.
In downtown St. Louis, the Rams played at the Trans World Dome beginning in 1995. Although the team won 10 or more games four times in St. Louis, and won the Super Bowl in its fifth season there, the Rams returned to Los Angeles after the 2015 season.
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