Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff spoke about a mission to help the Conejo Valley community, area businesses and California Lutheran University on Sept. 16.
Rams executive says team on mission to help Conejo Valley
Demoff talked about the vision the team has for expanding football in the region, Olympic and Super Bowl bids for the Rams’ new Inglewood Stadium and the challenges of relocating the team from St. Louis during his speech at the Cal Lutheran Corporate Leaders Breakfast at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
In April 2015, before the NFL owners’ Jan. 12 vote which moved the team back to Los Angeles, the NFL talked with the then St. Louis Rams about their plans.
Demoff said at the time the team drew a big red star on a map of the Conejo Valley and shared plans for building a headquarters and practice facility in Ventura County. Demoff grew up in Los Angeles and told the NFL the comparatively low real estate prices, home prices and quality of schools would make the the area a great place for the team.
“We laid out a vision they really didn’t anticipate, which was we want to be a team for all of Southern California,” Demoff said. “We don’t just want to be in downtown like most of the other teams are.”
The league made the move from the Gateway City challenging, though, because it did not allow the team to reach out to partners and contractors in the Los Angeles area before the move became final.
“Basically, we landed on Jan. 13 and said ‘It’s time to find a place to play,’” Demoff said.
Once in Los Angeles, the team fast tracked the building of a temporary football practice facility behind Cal Lutheran’s Rowland Stadium and directly adjacent to the college’s own practice football field.
“This has been a tremendous reception to the Conejo Valley, to Ventura County, to this community,” Demoff said.
Demoff said bringing NFL football back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 gave the team a unique opportunity other Los Angeles sports teams didn’t have. The team realized there are hungry sports fans in Ventura County and the team wanted its presence to be felt here.
“As far as I can remember, people have talked about bringing facilities or teams or stadiums out to this area, but nobody ever had,” Demoff said. “We thought this was our opportunity to engage this community and to be part of this wonderful area.”
For the next three years, the team will practice at Cal Lutheran while it looks for a site for a permanent practice facility and corporate headquarters.
Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball joked about the team’s sudden presence on his campus.
“I say to people that for years Cal Lutheran has been educating people, helping people transform lives, sending people out in the world to do great things and so on,” Kimball said. “None of that got the attention that we got when it was announced that the Los Angeles Rams would be using the Cal Lutheran campus as their training headquarters. I’ve never seen so many Google Alerts in about 24 hours after that.”
Kimball said it’s been a treat to work with the team as it finds its footing again in the area.
“It has been a delight to work with the Rams. They have been terrific partners as we discussed how the arrangement might take shape,” he said.
Initial excavation and grading permits for the team’s Inglewood stadium were just granted. The first step in building the $2.6 billion stadium will be to dig a 70-foot hole in the ground. The team is currently rounding up construction equipment from around the country for that project and will play at Los Angeles Coliseum until then.
In May, Los Angeles won the right to host Super Bowl 55 in 2021.
The team is currently searching for a permanent headquarters and about a 50-acre site for a permanent practice facility. If the team locates in the region, though, Ventura County may see benefits from Los Angeles’s bid to host the Super Bowl.
The team also is bidding to a host Final Four and the team wants to assist the LA 2024 Olympic bid.
The bottom line, Demoff said, is the team is trying to make an impact on the community. With $200 million in new payroll in the region, players are buying and renting homes in Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and even Camarillo.
“You’re going to see our team and our staff everywhere in this community,” Demoff said. “While you’re going to cheer us on on Sundays, I hope you’ll be empowered by what we do on Monday through Saturday.”
• Contact Philip Joens at [email protected]