The Minnesota Vikings are currently trying to get funds to build a new home stadium with rumors flying that if a deal is not reached the team would move to Los Angeles. Minnesota’s move to Los Angeles would not be a first in the NFL, as several NFL franchises have previously moved to new cities because of stadium issues. This article looks back at some of the franchises that moved to new cities and the reasons behind those moves.
In 1980, Oakland Raiders owner, Al Davis, was unsuccessful at get improvements on and luxury boxes added to the Oakland Coliseum. Therefore, Davis let the NFL know about his plans to move the team to Los Angeles, a plan that NFL owners voted down. An injunction was placed on the teams plans to move, when Davis tried to move the team in spite of the NFL owners vote.
After battling the NFL in court, a jury sided with Davis, and the team finally moved to Los Angeles in time for the 1982 season. However, Davis would move the team back to Oakland in 1995.
Lack of funding for a new stadium or improvements for the current stadium, and a seemingly selfish desire on the part of owner Jim Irsay, are the two biggest factors that led to the Baltimore Colts becoming the Indianapolis Colts.
Four years after Irsay bought the team, he began to acknowledge that he was receiving offers to move the Baltimore Colts. Throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Irsay continually changed his mind about moving the team while also trying to use offers regarding moving the team as leverage to try and secure a new stadium in Baltimore, despite being quoted as saying "It's not a matter of if I'm leaving [Baltimore], but where I'm going.”
In 1984, Phoenix and Indianapolis were the two cities bidding for Baltimore’s relocation, while Baltimore was trying to hold on to their team. In March of 1984, Maryland’s Senate discussed two options; either buying the team and reselling it to investors or take control of the team through “eminent domain.”
On March 27, 1984, Irsay gave the state of Maryland a new list of demands, while the Sentate passed eminent domain legislation that would “allow” the state to take over ownership of the Baltimore Colts. On March 28, Irsay reportedly selfishly ignored calls from Maryland officials, and in the dead of night moving trucks arrived to move everything associated with the Baltimore Colts, and moved it to Indianapolis.
The city of Baltimore filed an eminent domain lawsuit at the end of March, however at the end of 1985; a federal judge dismissed the suit, and the city would be without a team until 1995.
In 1995 Cleveland Browns’ owner Art Modell was unhappy with mayor Michael White and felt his team was being treated unfairly in receiving a deal to build a new stadium, even though the city gave great deals to help build new a new stadium/arena for the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
City officials and fans tried to block the move, forcing the NFL to step in with a compromise. The NFL worked with city officials to secure a brand new stadium, and promised that football would be back in Cleveland in no later than 1999. Additionally, Modell agreed to leave the Browns name, colors, team history and records as property of the new Cleveland Browns team when the franchise became unsuspended.
Los Angeles Rams
Also moving to a new city in 1995 was the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams had been in Los Angeles since 1946, but lacking attendance and a 4-12, 1994 season sealed the team’s fate and owner Georgia Frontiere moved the team to St. Louis.
The fate of the Minnesota Vikings currently rests not in the hands of the team or their players, but in the hands of Minnesota’s body of legislatures. Recently a House committee rejected a stadium-funding bill, while a Sentate committee passed a stadium-funding bill. Although a Sentate committee approved a bill, there is a still lot of work to be done before a majority of the whole Senate could approve it.
During a recent meeting between Roger Goodell, Art Rooney II, and members of Minnesota’s legislatures, the urgency of getting a bill passed and the possibility of the team moving to Los Angeles, were both discussed.
In the end, the funding bill gets caught up in fighting and arguing between members of Minnesota’s legislatures and the team is in Los Angeles in 2013.