This Saturday night, the Rams will play host to the Dallas Cowboys, in the first NFL game played in the country’s second largest media market in over 20 years. The game is completely sold out, and the Rams have even had to open up additional sections of the coliseum to accommodate the additional tickets they have sold, bringing the total close to the reported stadium capacity of 91,000.
The venerable owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jones was instrumental in convincing fellow owners to buy into Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s vision. He praised the “immense qualifications and passion” of the Rams owner, and said Kroenke “gave [the NFL] a fantastic opportunity, and we don’t get many of them, to really show what we could be.”
In an interview given by the LA Times from his team’s training camp in Oxnard, Jones explained why he was a leading proponent of Kroenke’s plan to build a palatial stadium/shopping/residential complex in Inglewood, as opposed to the Raiders’ and Chargers’ joint plans to build a stadium in Carson:
“The process was arduous,” Jones said. “It unnecessarily pitted to some degree of ownership against each other. But if you waited … you’d miss the damn train. We had a time and place there with the Rams, with the ability to relocate to Los Angeles, the resources, the economic timing, to do it right. It was all right there.”
Jones views the Cowboys playing the Rams this Saturday as a justifiable reward for his lobbying efforts on behalf of the Rams move from Saint Louis:
“This is a little bit of icing on the cake for all of our effort to have a team in Los Angeles,” he said. “We look at it that way completely, as though we’ve been awarded a bowl game. That’s the way we look at it, because of the effort that it took to get the Rams here.”
Of course, Rams fans back in Missouri see Jones as a pariah and a point man in the relocation of a franchise that called St. Louis home for the last two decades. At the same time, other NFL moguls – led by the Panther’s Jerry Richardson – pushed hard for the Carson project and for the Rams to stay in Saint Louis.
“I believed in [the Inglewood plan] for all the right reasons,” Jones said. “It was lifting the Cowboys, as well as every other team in the league.”
The possibility of the Raiders moving to the Las Vegas market and the Rams staying put in San Diego, albeit in a new downtown stadium similar to Major League Baseball’s Padres situation in the Gaslamp District, may be the optimum situation overall for the NFL in terms of generating revenue. In the end, the long term plans of the league are dictated by economic concerns and the owner’s collective passion to chase the almighty dollar.