Ask any sports fan what the worst thing that can happen to their team and most will say losing some big game to a hated rival, or maybe a star player getting hurt and ending your team’s season before it really even starts. But fans of the St Louis Rams know once again what the worst thing that can happen to their team: it can stab them in the back and relocate thousands of miles away. Now that the Rams have officially moved to Los Angeles to once again become the LA Rams it leaves the fans of St Louis without a local NFL team to root for. Even worse, it’s the second time in 30 years it’s happened to them.
Now those of us in my area know of losing their beloved team, and it also happening twice at that, when both the Worcester IceCats and Worcester Sharks left central Massachusetts. But even with both of those minor league American Hockey League franchises leaving fans in these parts still had the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots to root for. Not many folks here still remember the Braves moving to Milwaukee in 1953, and even fewer even know who the Boston Yanks even were. (They were an NFL team in the mid 1940s, moved to New York in 1949, and became the last NFL franchise to fold in 1952 as the Dallas Texans). But in St. Louis, for a second time they get to live the sports nightmare of a beloved team leaving.
It’s not like the fans of the Rams and the state of Missouri didn’t put up a fight, as there were plans for a $1.1 billion dollar stadium in the works. Apparently the big stumbling block for the NFL was they would have been required to put up $200 million for the project, an amount that, according to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was “double what league policy allowed”. In a league with gross revenues over $10 billion I can see where they would have an issue with coming up with another $100 million.
Oh, no, wait…I can’t. In an era where taxpayer funded stadiums are becoming harder and harder to build the NFL would have had one with significant taxpayer investment ($350 million or more) in St Louis. And the NFL turned their backs on the fans of the Rams. I wonder if the $550 million relocation fee Rams owner Stan Kroenke would have to pay played any role in the NFL showing virtually no interest in a taxpayer funded stadium. Too bad Kroenke didn’t spend any of that money on decent scouting and coaching staffs to keep the franchise competitive, although not doing so ultimately reduced revenues and gave him a reason to move.
“It is troubling that the league would allow for the relocation of a team when a home market has worked in good faith and presented a strong and viable proposal,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said, as was reported on ESPN.com “We will review the NFL’s decision thoroughly before determining what next steps to take.”
The big problem is there is few “steps to take” to begin with. Trying to lure another NFL franchise away from their current market to play in the Edward Jones Dome while a new stadium is being built is always an option, but it’s not like there are a lot of choices in that direction. With both the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers both wanting to join the Rams in Los Angeles one would think neither would really be interested in the market the Rams just abandoned. My guess is that leaves just the Jacksonville Jaguars as a possibility. The city could also look at an expansion franchise for Major league Soccer, but for many that would be the wrong kind of football.
Full disclosure: I like poking fun at my friends, both “in real life” and virtual ones on the internet, who root for the St. Louis Rams. It’s good natured fun between fans of different teams, each trying to get a dig into the other by any means necessary. No matter what’s said, it eventually comes down to one play that gives up Patriots fans the upper edge. Because this posting is supposed to be about supporting the Rams fans, I won’t be posting a picture of the play.
Ha, who am I kidding.