LOS ANGELES - The National Football League is officially back in Los Angeles. On Sunday, the Rams returned back to Southern California, beating the Seattle Seahawks in their first game there since leaving for St. Louis at the end of the 1994 season.
More than 91,000 fans packed the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to watch the Rams return back to the stadium the team called home from 1946-1979.
Among the many fans who packed the stadium where several from the Central Coast, who made the short trek down to Los Angeles to watch the action.
"When we heard they were coming back, I was happiest guy in the world. Rams are my team, our team, LA's team," said Jim Flores of Santa Ynez.
Flores was among thousands of fans who arrived early and tailgated outside the Coliseum. For the lifelong Rams fan, this trip was a return to his roots.
"My dad brought me here in the early 70's for my first game and followed them to St. Louis and I'm glad they're back!" said Flores.
Like Flores, Rick Grantham of Morro Bay has fond memories of attending Rams games throughout his life, especially at the venerable Coliseum.
"My grandfather took me here to my first game in 1959 and I have never missed a Rams game in my life except the year I was in Vietnam and I'm making up for it," said Grantham. "I'll never miss another Rams game for the rest of my life."
Grantham's passion for the team runs so deep he mentioned he continued his allegiance even when the franchise moved to St. Louis, so much so he traveled east many times to watch the Rams play there.
"We were okay with going to St. Louis a couple of times a year to stay in touch being the kind of fans we are," said Grantham. "But the only thing that would be better than this is if they were playing in Morro Bay!"
With the team now just a couple of hours south, countless Rams fans are among the tens of thousands of Southern California fans who have purchased season tickets. For many, it means a full day spend cheering on their team.
"We get up at the crack of dawn, before the sun comes up, head down here and we'll be going home late at night, that's a diehard right here," said Rams fan Lisa Bueno, while taking a break from early morning tailgating.
While there is plenty of nostalgia for Rams fans watching their team play in the Coliseum, the 93-year old stadium will only serve as a temporary home for the team while their new stadium in Inglewood is built. The $2.6 billion "City of Champions Stadium," which will be located at the former site of Hollywood Park racetrack, is set to open in August 2019.
Still, as fans anxiously await the opening of the new stadium, they're happy to see their team play in the historic venue in the meantime.
"All the history here and the Olympics going on, it's sensational, it means everything to me. This is where they belong. LA Coliseum, absolutely," said Jim Wesner of Santa Maria. "I've been waiting 22 years since I was a kid to be here to see this happen. We talked about it and it's just phenomenal! This is home."
Rams fans of all kinds were able to celebrate the homecoming with a hard-fought 9-3 win over the Seahawks. It's the first of what Rams fans will be many in their new (and former) home.