St. Louis Rams’ Consideration of Training Camp in Southern California is a PR Disaster


In case you never paid attention during elementary school geography class, there are in fact 48 wonderful contiguous states in this great country (unless you ask former Governor David Paterson, in which case it might be 47). 28 of those states don’t have an NFL team, and among those states only three even had the privilege of welcoming an NFL team for training camp during 2014.

That means there’s a plentiful selection of unique locations for an NFL team that might want a change of scenery for training camp, and that’s not even factoring in locations like Southern Canada and Alaska, which would be a further trip but would still be feasible. After all, we’ve seen a team in our own city go that route before, as the St. Louis Blues held training camp in Anchorage in September of 2001.

Even with so many unique locations available, however, the St. Louis Rams are apparently content with choosing one that’s already vastly overpopulated, as ESPN’s Todd Archer and Nick Wagoner reported on Monday that the team is in discussions to spend a portion of training camp in Oxnard, California around the time of their preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

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While the experience would provide the Rams with the opportunity to go up against another team’s players in practice—in this case, the Dallas Cowboys—it’s a miserably thought-out stunt that is equal, if not worse, to the move that the Rams attempted to pull several years ago by scheduling home games in London for three straight years. After a massive fan backlash, the series in London was reduced to just one game against the New England Patriots, which occurred in the 2012 season.

Obviously, the Rams have always had strong ties to California, as the team played there from 1946 to 1994, with most of the team’s upper management remaining in L.A. until the late 2000s. Those ties have grown exponentially over the past year-and-a-half, as owner Stan Kroenke has purchased land in Southern California, announced his intentions to build a stadium on that land, and without directly saying so in public, made it pretty apparent that he wants the Rams to be in Los Angeles as soon as possible.

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With the team stuck in St. Louis at least through the 2015 season, however, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to further contribute to the paranoia and discontent of the fan base in the city in which the team actually plays. While the Rams can argue that they’re getting the opportunity to scrimmage against another team and practice in front of a segment of Los Angeles fans who have stayed loyal to the team since their move, it will be extremely difficult to sell that argument to an already skeptical St. Louis fan base.

It’s not as if Southern California is starving for football during the summer, anyway. Besides the in-state accessibility to the Raiders and 49ers, who hold training camp in Northern California, the San Diego Chargers also stay in their hometown for camp, and the Cowboys make the trip to Oxnard. While the Rams would likely be in Oxnard for a few days to a week, it’s not exactly alluring to be the third team in SoCal and the fifth in the state for training camp, as compared to St. Louis, where they’d be one of two teams in the state and the only team within a four-hour radius. Of course, there are also all the above-mentioned states which would likely jump at the possibility to host even part of an NFL training camp and would not create nearly as much uneasiness for St. Louis fans as Southern California does.

It’s no secret that the Rams are holding their existing hometown fans hostage as Kroenke refuses to divulge any information about where the team will be located beyond the upcoming season. With the task ahead of them of trying to fill 66,000-seat stadium eight times for a team that’s potentially moving and hasn’t had a winning season since 2003, one would think the Rams might be more cautious than to hold even part of training camp in the very location where they’re widely speculated to be moving in 2016.

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