<
>

Rams aim to be out of St. Louis by end of next week

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- There will be no misdirection, no shroud of secrecy and no cavalcade of trucks leaving Rams Park under the cover of night. No, the Rams' return to Los Angeles will be far more straightforward.

The Rams officially became property of Los Angeles again when the NFL announced their approval for relocation on Jan. 12. But the team's business and football operations have remained in St. Louis in the time since. That time is almost up, as the Rams intend to be out of their St. Louis facilities by the end of next week.

The move has already begun. The Rams shut down their business and scouting operations Friday and will close down the football operations next week, which will be the final period any sort of Rams business takes place in St. Louis.

The first moving trucks departed Rams Park on March 7 for the nearly 2,000-mile journey to the greater Los Angeles area. Six more trucks have begun the approximately 28-hour journey since, but that movement is expected to pick up next week. The Lombardi Trophy from the team's victory in Super Bowl XXXIV is among the items currently en route to Los Angeles.

Bruce Warwick, the Rams' director of operations, estimates that 30 semitrucks, each carrying between 20,000 and 22,000 pounds of cargo, will be required to complete the move.

"All football operations will be shut down next Friday, so that's when you are going to really start seeing trucks today, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," Warwick said Friday. "And it's just going to be a constant, just load and go."

That "load and go" process will be the result of tireless work from Warwick, who has spent every week since the move was announced trekking between St. Louis and Los Angeles. He spends most of his weekdays on the West Coast, returning to St. Louis for the weekends before flying back out. Although there's no definitive number yet, Warwick said the team and the moving company will tag about 25,000 items to be moved via those trucks.

To keep track of everything, the Rams and the moving company built an internal website where they can track and monitor everything that gets moved. Those items are tagged, photographed and cataloged so when they are needed again, the Rams have a database that tells them where an item is and where it needs to go.

For now, most of the trucks to move early are taking the Rams' items to a warehouse in Anaheim. That's because most of the items that have already departed are not going to be needed for the team's offseason program in Oxnard or for training camp, which is expected to take place in Irvine. Rams Park has been mostly cleared out; however, some of the modular furniture like the cubicles in the media room will stay behind.

The last trucks to leave will carry things like weight room equipment, which is still needed in St. Louis for players rehabbing from injury, and it won't be required in Los Angeles until the offseason program begins in Oxnard on April 18. Other trucks, such as those carrying items for business operations, will be needed sooner. The business side is expected to resume in the Agoura Hills area on a temporary basis while the Rams continue to seek a permanent home.

With the business side expected to make two moves, the football side also has three moves to make, including the initial one to Oxnard, followed by training camp in Irvine and then to the anticipated in-season home in the Thousand Oaks area. Modular trailers will be constructed for the football operations in Thousand Oaks.

All of those moving parts are the most difficult piece of the puzzle, according to Warwick.

"It's going to be tricky for the football side as we move to three different locations in the next five months," Warwick said. "It's not like we're going for a day or two. We have all of our stuff with us that's not in the warehouse so we've tried to be smart as far as how we pack, what we need, putting things in pods and things like that. We can transport from location to location to location so we're not unloading, reloading and all that other stuff."

The moving company is also handling the personal moves for team employees, about 20 to 25 of whom will be heading west to begin business operations April 4.

Part of the team's timeline included figuring out what to take with them. Warwick has long been a stickler for clearing out clutter and has encouraged employees to go through with a yearly purge of non-essential items. Everyday items are also not part of the move.

"It's California," Warwick said. "They sell Gatorade out there. They sell staplers. They sell paper clips. Anything that is not essential stuff, we'll secure it out there."

The Rams' leftover items they aren't taking have been donated to local charities the team has worked with in the past. That includes everything from office supplies to St. Louis Rams branded apparel.

What becomes of the Rams' former Earth City headquarters remains to be seen. The building and the three practice fields behind it are controlled by the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex. Some have mentioned it as a possible home for a future Major League Soccer franchise, but no determination has been made to this point.

Before completely moving out, Warwick said the Rams will do their best to do necessary maintenance to the parts of the building that might be damaged by the move.

"We do have some cleanup to do," Warwick said. "We do have some repairs to do."

And after that? Facilities manager Lee Martin will turn out the lights on the Rams' time in St. Louis.