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Rams wave goodbye to their Cal Lutheran era and say hello to their camp at LMU

The Rams used facilities on the Cal Lutheran campus for eight years. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It was intended to be a temporary home for the Rams, a stopover for at most a few years for the NFL team before moving to a new permanent facility at a location to be determined.

Nearly a decade, two Super Bowl appearances and one championship later, the Rams will be on the field for the final time Tuesday at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks when they conclude their offseason program with a walk-through.

In August, after conducting training camp at Loyola Marymount, the Rams will not return to what has essentially been a trailer park of 75 adjacent and retrofitted modular buildings in Ventura County. Instead, they will set up another temporary facility in Woodland Hills, where their permanent headquarters will one day be.

In a statement, Cal Lutheran said it was “pleased” to be the Rams’ practice home and that students benefited from internships with the team, classes led by Rams professionals and other school and community work.

In 2018, a Cal Lutheran choir sang the national anthem before a “Monday Night Football” game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The choir dedicated its performance to alumnus Justin Meek, who was killed that year in the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.

“We thank the Rams for their support of the Cal Lutheran community and the relationships we have built with them,” the school said.

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Rams President Kevin Demoff echoed Cal Lutheran on the relationship, highlighting the choir’s performance alongside first responders.

“Demonstrating the resilience, strength and power of community to the world,” Demoff said in a statement. “Thank you to the CLU community for making us feel at home and helping us make history.”

The Rams’ Thousand Oaks residency began in 2016 when the franchise returned to Southern California after more than two decades in St. Louis. They built a nondescript 50,000-square-foot facility and built two fields with a plan to stay there for three or four years.

That timeline reflected projections for when construction of SoFi Stadium — and the Rams’ search for a separate site to build a permanent home for football and business operations — would be complete.

However, the Rams played games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum throughout the 2019-2020 season. Owner Stan Kroenke only purchased the Woodland Hills property in 2022.

Meanwhile, in the multibillion-dollar business that is the NFL, the Rams are prospering despite their Spartan facility, which pales in comparison to that of most other teams.

Rams receiver JJ Laap runs a drill as head coach Sean McVay looks on during a practice at Cal Lutheran.Rams receiver JJ Laap runs a drill as head coach Sean McVay looks on during a practice at Cal Lutheran.

Rams receiver JJ Laap runs a drill as head coach Sean McVay looks on during a practice at Cal Lutheran. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“We have what we need here,” coach Sean McVay said in 2019.

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In a 2024 player survey conducted by the NFL Players Assn., the Rams ranked 20th out of 32 teams in 11 categories, including restaurants, locker rooms and training facilities and coaching and ownership, among others.

“The strong numbers for the staff – the players rate McVay very highly – ‘cover’ the lower marks for the facilities. Respondents also highly value both their training staff and their strength coaches,” the association said on its website.

However, offensive lineman Rob Havenstein, a 10-year pro who has been with the team since it returned to Los Angeles, said luxury facilities on the football field “equal to zero.”

“It’s all a form of window dressing,” Havenstein said recently. “It’s the people in the building: the players, the coaches, the staff and the relationships you build.

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“We can do just as much about a roof that leaks every time it rains as when it doesn’t leak. As soon as it starts raining, buckets come out and, okay, you have some wet spots. You work around it.

“It certainly gives you more resilience to get through your normal day.”

Under McVay, the Rams have made five playoff games in seven seasons. In 2018, they advanced to Super Bowl LIII. In 2021, they won Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

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McVay joked in a television interview last month that he longed for a simple luxury: a window in his office.

Don’t be fooled, though: the maniacally focused McVay loves not having to deal with distractions at work, even pleasant ones.

While the football operations staff and executives, including general manager Les Snead and vice president Tony Pastoors, will relocate to Woodland Hills, the business side will continue to operate from offices in Agoura Hills. Ultimately, all Rams football and business personnel will work out of Woodland Hills.

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Moving to the San Fernando Valley is just one of the moves the Rams will make before opening the season on September 8 against the Detroit Lions in Detroit.

After training camp at UC Irvine since 2016 – and staying in a luxury hotel for the past few years – the Rams will report to Loyola Marymount at the end of July. They will be rehoused in dormitories.

“I’ve done it in college, I’ve done it in the pros,” Havenstein said, “so it won’t be that big of a deal.”

Star receiver Cooper Kupp said he thought the setup at Irvine was “great” but doesn’t mind the move.

“It’s something new,” Kupp said. “New can sometimes be good.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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