About 3,000 St. Louis Rams fans turned out to watch them practice with the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard on Monday. The team was in Southern California for three days this week, following their first preseason game against the Raiders in Oakland, CA on August 14.
The practice, which was open to the public, drew massive media attention, and created more buzz and anticipation of the team’s eventual relocation to Los Angeles.
Dressed from head to toe in Ram’s gear, fans lined up in the bleachers at River Ridge Playing Fields hours before the team showed up. Some drove more than 100 miles.
Fans chanted "Whose house? Rams' house!" and held signs and a giant cardboard cutout of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s head.
For many, the scrimmage conjured up memories of the Rams when they played in L.A., before they left for St. Louis in 1994. Now, more than 20 years later, a new generation of fans who have never seen pro football played in L.A. has joined the movement for their return.
Mayor Butts, who attended the scrimmage with Inglewood Council members, said:
"The Rams are the team that most of us as children grew up with. Roman Gabriel, Jack Snow, the Fearsome Foursome. That is part of our DNA growing up. So there is no team that can claim they are more integrated into the psyche of the people who were old enough to attend football games than the Rams. That's hands down. And anybody who tells you there's another team that's more a part of that generational psyche, they're fooling themselves."
Former Rams quarterback Jim Everett said, "They were here for a lot of years, so those feelings run deep.”
All eyes were on Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who made a rare appearance at practice, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It is no coincidence that the Rams chose to practice in Southern California as it awaits approval from the NFL to move back to L.A. Nor is it a coincidence that the team arranged a joint practice with the Cowboys. Jones is one of Kroenke’s staunch NFL owner supporters.
Even without an official okay from the NFL, ground breaking is planned in December for a proposed stadium in Inglewood. Mayor Butts said on Tuesday that the presentation made to NFL owners about the Inglewood stadium last week was “well received.” Owners are expected to vote on the Rams’ future home before the 2016 Super Bowl.
“It is clear from the thousands of Rams' faithful that attended this scrimmage, that Los Angeles is ready for the return of the Rams,” Butts said.