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The winners of the NFL's move back to LA

The National Football League's St. Louis Rams are moving to Los Angeles next season, and the San Diego Chargers may join them. Most observers expect those franchises to benefit financially from relocation, but some other, surprising pro sports teams could get a boost as well.

NFL team owners on Tuesday night approved the Rams' proposal for a roughly $1.8 billion stadium and commercial facility in Inglewood, California. The Chargers, who previously worked with the Oakland Raiders on a separate venue plan, will have a year to decide whether to move along with the Rams.

The NFL — the most lucrative U.S. pro sports league — draws more interest than other sports in most cities. If and when the Rams and Chargers leave, other pro teams in St. Louis and San Diego stand to draw some of the cash they leave behind, said John Vrooman, a Vanderbilt University sports economist.

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates after scoring against the Minnesota Wild.
Scott Rovak | NHLI | Getty Images
St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates after scoring against the Minnesota Wild.

St. Louis has three pro sports teams, and baseball's Cardinals and hockey's Blues will remain once the Rams move. The Chargers' departure from San Diego would leave only baseball's Padres in San Diego.

Those teams will suddenly face considerably less competition for things like season ticket packages and luxury seats, Vrooman said. NFL teams usually see more season ticket demand than other pro sports teams because the cost is lower for the shorter season.

"When the NFL gets out of town, the other clubs from MLB and NHL can fill the vacuum with more expensive season ticket packages and luxury suites," Vrooman said.

Both the Blues and Padres could use the boost. The Blues are the 24th-most valuable National Hockey League franchise, with a value of $270 million, and had an operating loss of $7.1 million last season, according to Forbes.

"Some of the corporate sponsorship could be re-directed toward the Blues, thus they do stand to potentially benefit from the Rams' defection," said Manish Tripathi, a marketing professor at Emory University who studies sports marketing.

The Padres' value of $890 million ranks 19th in Major League Baseball, Forbes said. The team took in revenue of $224 million last year.

While the Padres could gain ticket sales by marketing itself as San Diego's only team, the benefit will likely be limited, Tripathi added.

MLB's Cardinals were already doing well enough with the Rams in town. The baseball franchise has actually outperformed the Rams in recent years, posting $294 million in revenue last year to the Rams' $290 million, according to Forbes.

The Padres are not guaranteed to have the San Diego sports market to themselves. Chargers owner Dean Spanos has not yet committed to leaving.

"I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers," Spanos said Tuesday night.

Still, the Chargers would have a strong financial incentive to move. The Rams or Chargers could see their values spike above $2.1 billion after relocating, at least $500 million higher than if they stayed put, according to rough projections by Vrooman.

That factors in the hefty relocation fee. Vrooman estimates the teams would have to pay $375 million, which could reach upward of $550 million depending on how the league calculates it.