UCI and Los Angeles Rams bring professional football back to Orange County
Public can see players train on world-class campus field this summer and beyond
The University of California, Irvine and the Los Angeles Rams have agreed to terms allowing the team to host its 2016 training camp on campus, returning professional football to Orange County for the first time in two decades. The agreement runs for three years, with a renewal option. Rams fans can watch players in action for free on UCI's Crawford Field on a variety of days throughout the summer.
"We're committed to being a university for the people, which means offering stellar academics and inviting our community to join us for historic events," said Chancellor Howard Gillman. "We're proud to welcome the Rams back to Southern California, where they belong."
It's a homecoming of sorts for the Rams, who practiced at the county's premier university from 1990 to 1992 and in 1994. They played in Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1995, enjoying some of their biggest victories with quarterback Vince Ferragamo, running back Eric Dickerson, coach John Robinson and offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.
"We look forward to training at UCI in preparation for the 2016 season," said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. "Their facilities are top-notch, and we're excited to welcome our fans to their campus as we gear up for the start of the season."
"This is an exciting time for NFL fans, and we'll do everything we can to ensure that this is a great experience for everyone involved," said Mike Izzi, UCI athletic director. "We welcome the Rams back, and although UCI doesn't have a football team, we take great pride in our facilities and our athletic accomplishments."
In just 50 years, those accomplishments have included 28 national championships by Anteater teams, 53 Olympians and Paralympians, an impressive roster of scholar-athletes and consistently high NCAA Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Sports rankings. UCI men's volleyball has won four national titles in the past decade; men's basketball went to its first NCAA Division I tournament in 2015; the women's water polo team competed in four of the past six NCAA tournaments; and the baseball team has been to the College World Series twice since 2007.
UCI's founding class in 1965 voted not to have a football team. Campus gridiron fans joke that the Anteaters - named for UCI's mascot - have been undefeated for 50 years.
Rams rookies will report to UCI on July 26, and the remainder of the team will report to camp on July 29. The Rams' first public practice will kick off Saturday, July 30, starting at 3:30 p.m. Gates open 90 minutes prior to each practice, and select players will sign autographs after all open practices. For additional information on the Rams training camp at UCI, including parking, visit https://specialreports.news.uci.edu/rams, www.parking.uci.edu/rams and http://www.therams.com/.
Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists. Media interested in covering Rams training camp practices should apply for credentials at www.therams.com/mediainfo. Once on the site, click the "media credentials" tab to proceed. All applications must be submitted by the media outlet's assigning sports director, editor or producer.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit http://www.uci.edu/.
About the Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles' original professional sports team, the Los Angeles Rams are one of the oldest franchises in the National Football League and since their founding in 1937 have garnered three world championships and sent 29 members to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The organization is committed to being a valuable civic partner and serving the Greater Los Angeles area 365 days a year. For more information, visit http://www.therams.com/, and follow the Rams on Facebook and Twitter, @RamsNFL.