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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

L.A. and St. Louis React to Rams Move

(CN) - Reactions to the NFL's decision Tuesday to return the Rams to Los Angeles after a 21-year absence depended on perspective. The decision was greeted with excitement in L.A. compared to anger and despair in St. Louis.

Andrew Hogan, Founder of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, said he's thrilled a franchise that both his father and grandfather had supported was coming back to LA.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Hogan said. "I took a sigh of relief after all of these years. I'm glad it's over. I'm thrilled, ecstatic every word for joy in the book. ... I'm glad I can start focusing on the actual football not the behind the scenes drama."

Hogan said that his group was planning an impromptu rally of a few hundred people to celebrate at the Hollywood Park Casino.

On its Facebook page Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams said:

"It's done. After 21 years in the wilderness the Los Angeles Rams are coming home. All of us at Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams would like to thank the 58,000 plus fans online that have helped build this incredible movement. GO RAMS!"

Hogan, 26, said he was around five years old when the Rams moved from Anaheim before the 1995 season to St. Louis. He said he formed Bring Back Los Angeles Rams which has close to 60,000 followers on social media less because he is a die-hard Rams fan and more because he believed the franchise should never have left LA.

Hogan said that a Bring Back Los Angeles Rams rally this past Saturday had attracted over 2,000 supporters. After close to five years in the group he said before he was "so ready" for a decision to come down on Tuesday evening.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he "cannot wait" for the NFL's return later this year.

"Today, with the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world," Garcetti said in a statement. "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. With the return of the NFL, there is yet another reason for visitors to come to Los Angeles, and for Angelenos to love calling this city home. I look forward to seeing the players out on the field."

Despair, anger and bewilderment were the common themes in St. Louis regarding the decision.

Zach Bayer, co-founder of the Facebook group "Keep the Rams in STL," has been a season ticket holder with his father for more than a decade. The 22-year-old grew up only knowing the St. Louis Rams.

"I never had a good feeling about the NFL to begin with," Bayer said. "They're one of the biggest corporations in America. They are greedy."

Bayer questions the NFL's willingness to assist the Chargers and Raiders financially so they can possibly remain in their home markets, while turning its nose at St. Louis which was the only city out of the three with a firm $1 billion stadium plan complete with $400 million in public money.

Bayer echoed a local sports talk radio personality's point that a precedent had been set with the NFL's decision. By rejecting St. Louis, he believes no other city will or should offer the NFL public money for another stadium again because the NFL has proven they don't need the money.

"The moment Kroenke bought the Rams, he wanted this to happen," Bayer said. "It's nothing but a money-making scheme.

"The nicest way I could put it, he's a scum bag."

Rams season ticket holder Kyle Hylton bleeds blue and gold. Or at least he used to.

"All I've known is Rams football my whole life," said the 28-year-old Hylton. "This is a dagger. I'm still trying to process this. It really sucks."

Hylton grew up wearing an Isaac Bruce jersey. He played high school football and now coaches youth football. Hylton said he wouldn't have been as involved in the sport without the Rams.

Hylton will still be a Rams fan, but not a Kroenke fan.

"He'll go down as the most hated man in St. Louis history," Hylton said.

Gov. Jay Nixon's stadium task force blasted the NFL's decision, tweeting: "Today's decision by @nfl concludes a flawed process that ends with the unthinkable result of #STL losing the @STLouisRams. #STLNFL"

Nixon also questioned the decision.

"We will review the NFL's decision thoroughly before determining what steps to take," Nixon said in a statement. "In particular, we are interested in their justification for departing so significantly from the NFL's guidelines after St. Louis had - in record time - presented a proposal for a first class stadium."

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