UCR students have mixed opinions on the NFL in LA

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After a 21-year hiatus and a half-decade’s worth of rumors about a return, the city of Los Angeles once again has an NFL team that will call it home. That’s right: The formerly ex-Los Angeles Rams can officially be deemed the “new” Los Angeles Rams as a motion to relocate, headed by team billionaire owner Stan Kroenke, has officially ended their 20-year stint in St. Louis.

This is a story that has continued and will continue to take shape but here’s the jist: The Rams beat both the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders’ proposals to move to LA and as you currently read this, the city of Inglewood, Calif. is laying the groundwork for the Kroenke-owned City of Champions Stadium. The stadium will be located on the existing Hollywood Park development and it is expected to be ready for use by the 2019 NFL season. While this stadium is being constructed, the Rams are likely to occupy the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for all home games — their former home between the years of 1946 and 1979.

Another key aspect of this situation is that the Chargers have until January 2017 to decide if they would like to make the move to Los Angeles and share the Inglewood Stadium with the Rams — the Raiders, meanwhile, are entirely out of the running but rumors suggest the team will look to replace the Chargers in San Diego if they do indeed move. According to sources, the widely held expectation around league circles is that Chargers owner Alex Spanos will opt to move before the 2017 deadline and there will be two Los Angeles-based NFL teams by this time next year.

Whew. Now, take a minute to absorb that information and it also becomes apparent that this situation — and its numerous economical and logistical implications — is unfolding in the proverbial “backyard” of most UC Riverside students. Considering this, we spoke to a total of 40 students, selected at random, to gauge their opinions on LA’s newest headliner and the results … were mixed. The final tally showed 15 students supported the move, nine were opposed and 16 had no opinion on the matter.

Starting by looking at the majority, the students who felt indifferent reasoned that because they already have little to no interest in football, the change would not affect them much whatsoever — despite acknowledging that the move would have an obvious impact. When asking if their interest in the sport could gain traction with a team in their own backyard, only two students responded optimistically, while others believed their feelings would not be changed on the matter regardless.

As for the students who were in favor, a few pointed to the fact that, out of the three teams who had the option to move to Los Angeles, the Rams made the most sense. The primary reasons cited were that both the Chargers and Raiders have established fan bases in their current cities while the Rams’ status is more volatile in that regard. Though, when it comes to the Raiders, this notion seems more based on perception than fact, as of the 32 NFL teams, Oakland ranked dead last in team value in 2015, according to Forbes, and was 30th in Emory University’s fan equity rankings — the Rams were 28th and 23rd in both studies, respectively, while the Chargers ranked 22nd and 17th. Though it is well-known that many Southern Californians have a distaste toward the Oakland team when asked why the Rams were a good fit, one supporter jokingly reasoned, “as long as it’s not the Raiders.”

As one could expect, those who responded in opposition of the Rams moving to LA were more opinionated on the move than the other two groups. Numerous students promptly noted that the change could lead to greater gentrification in a predominantly urban Inglewood area, which was seen as a negative, while others raised that the stadium could have a negative impact by increasing both vehicle and people traffic in the surrounding areas during football game days.

There is difficulty in determining whether these concerns are actual consequences as they are purely hypothetical at this juncture. However, it can be safely assumed that the new stadium will positively affect surrounding property values and the associated businesses should also create new job opportunities, but it has yet to be determined whether this can mitigate the presumed displacement of low-income families, which was of this group’s concern. Additionally, the concerns about increased traffic are reasonable, but were refuted by those in favor of the move, who pointed out that modern structural designs have been able to diminish the potential of such follies.

As it stands, the student body of UC Riverside is wholly mixed on opinions when it comes to the NFL’s move to Los Angeles. What can be discerned, though, is that the the move will have an undeniable impact on those both in the immediate and surrounding areas of the new stadium.
To see prototypes of the City of Champions Stadium, head to Curbed LA.

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