When the National Football League announced last week that the St. Louis Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, where they played from 1946 until moving to St. Louis in 1995, it seemed that everyone involved got what they wanted, except Rams’ fans in St. Louis, of course.
The NFL is pleased because it will now have a team in the nation’s second largest media market for the first time in 20 years. The Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke, was so overcome with joy that he cried when speaking about the move.
But for those moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles with the team, whether they are players, coaches, front office personnel, etc., they are about to take a big financial hit thanks to the vastly different costs of living from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
And it’s not just the cost of living that’s significantly higher in Los Angeles; the difference in the cost of real estate in each market could safely be described as astronomical.
It’s substantially more expensive to live in Los Angeles than it is to live in St. Louis.
Just how much more expensive? According to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors, Los Angeles is the sixth most expensive housing market in the country, with a median sales price on a single-family home of $506,800 as of the third quarter of 2015.
St. Louis, on the other hand, is the 112th most expensive market, with a median sales price on a single-family home of $160,000 as of the third quarter of 2015.
So, the team is moving from the 112th most expensive market to the sixth, and the median sales price in Los Angeles is more than $346,000 it is in St. Louis.
Now, because you’re all thinking it, let’s not go crying for the millionaire football players here, but the reality of the situation is the reality of the situation.
And for the players, they don’t get any help from the league or the team when it comes to the costs of selling their homes in St. Louis (if they chose to buy there) or buying a new one in Los Angeles.
Here’s a little on how the relocation process affects the players, from former kicker Matt Stover, who was a member of the Cleveland Browns when they moved to Baltimore in 1996, courtesy of ESPN:
Former NFL kicker Matt Stover said there should be a financial package in place for Rams players forced to relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
Stover lost thousands of dollars after he sold his house in 1996, when he was among the players who moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in the Browns' relocation. None of it was repaid.
According to the NFL Players Association, franchises are only required to pay moving and relocation expenses under the collective bargaining agreement.
"We weren't ready for it, we had no control over it and we were under contract, so we were obligated to go," said Stover, who was the Browns' players union representative at the time of the move. "I'm hoping the Rams organization will take care of their players. There should be a financial package for the players moving to L.A."
Stover said the Browns chose not to pay for the realtor fees and closing costs on the houses sold by the players. The organization contended anything paid beyond moving expenses would be a violation of the salary cap.
Now, no one forces players to buy a house in the place where they play. In fact, many players, especially young ones, rent.
But the cost to rent in Los Angeles is, unsurprisingly, much higher than St. Louis as well.
According to recent analysis by RealtyTrac, the average renter needs to spend 47.5% of their salary to afford the average rent in Los Angeles, while the average renter needs to spend only 26.9% of their salary to afford the average rent in St. Louis.
RealtyTrac’s report utilized data on the average rent of a three-bedroom property in 2016 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to the HUD data, the average rent for a three-bedroom property in Los Angeles is $2176, while the average rent in St. Louis checks in at $1183.
But most NFL players, at least the good ones anyway, don’t live in modest housing, but some do.
In fact, a recent article by The Wall Street Journal shed some light on a group of players who spend as little as possible and save as much as they can.
Among the group mentioned in that article are Washington’s Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris and Ryan Kerrigan, all of whom live frugally, despite in some cases having huge contracts.
From the WSJ:
Two-time pro bowl running back Alfred Morris, who makes a base salary of $1.5 million this year, has taken to riding a bike to work and leaving it in his reserved parking space. On days when it’s too cold or otherwise inconvenient to cycle to the facility, Morris switches to a splashier ride: a 1991 Mazda 626, which he drove up from Florida as a rookie in 2012. He calls it his Bentley.
So for the Rams players who are moving from the 112th most expensive housing market to the sixth, saving money may not be an option any more. And they could take a big loss when they move too.
And it’s easy to say, oh they’re millionaires, they can afford to move to Los Angeles. And sure, some can. But some can’t, or they don’t want to. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
With careers that don’t last long, and the very real risk of suffering permanent physical and mental damage, players have every right to make and save as much money as they can.
But the NFL just made it much harder for the Rams players to do that.
(image above courtesy of Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com)