Kroenke: Rams' decision came down to economics

INGLEWOOD, Ca. -- When Rams COO Kevin Demoff said at a news conference Friday that there are increasing talks about the Chargers joining the Rams soon in Los Angeles, a crowd of about 150 fans in the Forum booed.

"This is the Rams' house," a few of the fans adorned in team gear screamed.

Seemingly, not for long.

The Chargers, who lost out on the initial vote by owners this week to move to Los Angeles with the Raiders, will meet with Rams officials in the next few days about striking a deal that could add a second team that eventually will play at the splashy Inglewood site, scheduled to open in 2019.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke said meetings with the Chargers would take place "soon." The Orange County Register reported those meetings would be on Monday.

"I think that'll be the Chargers' decision," Kroenke said about sharing a stadium with the AFC West team that, like the Rams, once played in metro Los Angeles. "We'll work hard to ... It's always better for us to have a second team. The NFL's done the studies and they say two teams in the market's the right solution. So it's always better for us to have the second team.

"So I think there are some owners -- and it was professed in that room -- that believe that one team would be the best solution for Los Angeles. But that's not what carried the vote. The vote believes that one team goes with the option for the second team, the absolute option. That's what it is, and studies show that two teams would and could succeed in Los Angeles, so we trust the league's data on that and we're happy to work on that."

The Chargers have the first right to join the Rams based on the structure of a deal the NFL worked out as part of the resolution to returning the NFL to Los Angeles after more than two decades. Should the Chargers opt to work out a stadium deal in San Diego, then the Raiders have the option of joining the Rams.

While it is almost certain that the Rams won't be solo in Los Angeles, there was this prevailing sentiment among several officials at the Rams news conference: the longer the Chargers wait, the more they could lose potential fans to the Rams.

As for the decision to leave St. Louis, Kroenke said it came down to economics. The existing Edward Jones Dome was outdated. Funding plans for a new stadium in St. Louis had some potential trap doors. The long-term earning potential -- which Kroenke emphasized all NFL owners share -- is greater in Los Angeles, he emphasized.

Kroenke said he understands the emotional pain the St. Louis and Rams' fans there feel, but he could not maximize his business there in comparison to Los Angeles.

The Rams stadium and surrounding entertainment venues won't be ready until 2019, but Inglewood Mayor James Butts said he's already written NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about hosting the 2020 Super Bowl.

The Rams are working on a deal to play at the Los Angeles Coliseum temporarily until them.

During that incubation period, the Rams will need to build a fan base by winning, something that hasn't happened much as it pertains to making the playoffs.

"That's the story of our team right now. Great promise, start out the season, raise your hopes," Kroenke said. "You got to get better. You got to get better at all levels. We got to get better in the way we coach them. We got to get better in the way we choose them.

"I think we have a great group, the core group of young players, I mean, you saw our defense when it was healthy. With (Alec) Ogletree out and Robert Quinn, those are two great players and our defense still performed well. We beat Seattle twice -- they're Super Bowl perennial right now and playing extremely well all through that section of the season. We have guys that can compete. We have some wonderful football players.

"The puzzle, you have to get that last piece and we haven't been quite able to do that. I think you can look at it how you want to. Carolina, with their quarterback, Cam Newton, he's a first pick in the draft following the year we picked Sam (Bradford). Sam's a wonderful guy, extremely talented, a number one pick in the draft but those are two number one picks. What happened with those two is different."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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