Where Could the Rams Move?

A blog about business and economics.
July 9 2013 11:42 AM

Where Could The St. Louis Rams Move If The City Refuses to Build a New Stadium?

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GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25: Not happy about the long flight to London.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

St. Louis officials are wisely refusing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a giveawy to the wealthy owner of the local football franchise, which is prompting talk that said franchise might want to relocate to some other city. Where could they go?

The obvious destination for any NFL team looking to relocate would be Los Angeles, America's second-largest city. However, L.A. and the NFL have a longstanding fraught relationship around the city's repeated—and admirable—refusal to pony up any stadium subsidies. If it's absolutely impossible to get a handout from the taxpayers anywhere, then it does seem like you'd be better off paying for your own stadium in LA than anywhere else. With the Rams there's the added wrinkle that they used to play in Los Angeles. As a fan of LA's recent mass transit investments, I'd love to see an upgraded Los Angeles Coliseum very convenient to an existing station on LA Metro's Expo Line.

More exotically, the NFL has a clearly expressed interest in some form of expansion to London although to me the logistical problems with having a team be based so far away from the competition seem very serious. The practical international city for an NFL team to be located in is Toronto, but the Buffalo Bills have been making concerted efforts to build up a Canadian fanbase and would presumably veto any such move.

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Back in the United States, with the exception of Los Angeles the two largest American metropolitan areas without an NFL team are Portland and San Antonio. Portland's metro area is slightly larger than San Antonio's, but San Antonio is growing faster and subjectively speaking Texas is football country in a way that Oregon is not. The existing Alamodome could accommodate professional football, but to make it lucrative you'd want fancy luxury boxes and such. The relatively new University of Texas at San Antonio Division I football program plays there currently, and would presumably be a lobbying ally in any effort to obtain the money.

All that said, the St. Louis metropolitan area is still larger than Portland or San Antonio and there's no competition from the NBA there. Which means that all else being equal there's a very strong case for the Rams staying exactly where they are.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.