The Raiders have now been in Las Vegas for two full seasons, but if the NFL had gone through with an idea that was floated in 2014, the Raiders never would have made it to Vegas and that’s because they would have ended up in St. Louis.
That wild piece of information was one of the many things that came to light over the past week after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was able obtain many of the court records from the lawsuit between the city of St. Louis and the NFL. In the lawsuit, the league agreed to a payout of $790 million in a settlement that was reached with the city back in November.
The lawsuit was filed by the the city over the Rams‘ decision to leave St. Louis. According to the court documents, it became pretty clear that the Rams were privately making plans to leave St. Louis in 2013 even though they were publicly saying that they wanted to stay. In January 2014, Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased a giant chunk of land in Los Angeles, which is where SoFi Stadium would eventually be built. At the time of the purchase, Kroenke insisted that the land wasn’t going to be built for a stadium.
Even though the NFL wouldn’t publicly admit it, it was pretty clear that the Rams were going to leave St. Louis. To keep fans in St. Louis happy, the NFL came up with a wild plan: Move the Raiders there.
From the Post-Dispatch, “The league indeed contemplated, at one point, the Raiders moving to St. Louis, with restructured ownership and a brand makeover.”
That information comes from court documents that the NFL likely never thought would see the light of day. Not only is it crazy that the league thought about moving the Raiders to St. Louis, but it’s just as crazy that they wanted to do it with a “restructured ownership.” It’s not exactly clear what that means, but it does insinuate the the NFL would have wanted someone besides Mark Davis in charge.
Of course, the craziest idea would have been to do a brand makeover for the Raiders, who have one of the most iconic brands not just in the NFL, but in all of sports.
It’s not clear why the NFL shied away from trying to make the Raiders move to St. Louis, but it might have been because Davis wanted nothing to do with it. In March 2016 when Davis was still trying to get a new stadium in Oakland, he was asked about the possibility of moving to St. Louis and he vehemently shot down the idea.
“It’s just the Raider brand is a different brand, I believe and I just don’t believe that St. Louis would maximize it,” Davis said at the time, via the Post-Dispatch. “I just don’t feel it in my heart that that’s where the Raiders are gonna be. Wherever we put this stadium, it’s gonna be for the rest of my life. And I just want it to be the right place.”
At the time of this comment, Davis was willing to move his team to pretty much any city that would have been willing to build him a stadium, well, except for St. Louis.
In the end, the Raiders moved to Las Vegas, the Rams moved to Los Angeles and the NFL got stuck footing a $790 million court settlement for abandoning the St. Louis.