Ignore Chad's Chicken Little impression
. The sky is not falling on fans of the St. Louis Rams.
While the franchise has already moved three times (from Cleveland to LA in 1945, from LA to Anaheim in 1979 and to St. Louis in 1995) it is definitely going to stay put this time around.
1. Stan Kroenke will want to keep the team in the Show-Me State.
He is a Missouri man through and through, who holds both a bachelor's degree and an MBA from Mizzou. His real estate company was incorporated in St. Louis in 1991. He has been a part owner of the team since it came to St. Louis in 1995. He lives with his wife (Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton) and two children in Columbia. Why would he move the team somewhere far from home? If he wants to travel to watch one of his sports teams play, he can already go to Denver or London to see the Nuggets, Avalanche or Arsenal.2. The Ed Jones Dome is more than adequate.
Granted, it's a drab dome with a downtown location that makes good tailgating nearly impossible. But don't discount the home field advantage a dome affords. Remember how loud the stadium got back in the Greatest Show on Turf era? In Indianapolis, the Colts have one of the most deafening crowds in the league thanks to the concrete roof that retains all the sound. If/when the team starts winning again, the Jones Dome will once again be feared by offensive lines across the NFL.3. Upgrading the Dome to meet the requirements of the team's lease shouldn't be that difficult or expensive.
The facility has to be in the "top tier" of NFL stadiums by 2014. Despite the vague wording, that shouldn't be too hard to achieve. Since this is Cardinal country, it's always a challenge to get the St. Louis taxpayers to back a football team. But if only a minor remodel were necessary, the local populace might be easily swayed -- after all, most everyone still recalls how painful it was to lose the local football franchise back in
1987. How about installing a bunch of new luxury boxes and renovating the outside of the stadium to have more visual appeal? That couldn't cost much, could it?3. If a new stadium is necessary, there are several local options.
Say Kroenke isn't swayed by just a facelift for the Ed Jones Dome. How would he feel about a brand new stadium across the river in southern Illinois? According to this Suburban Journals article
, lawmakers there are drooling over the prospect of thousands of sports commuters making the trip to their towns on fall Sundays, a la New York Jets and Giants fans traveling to East Rutherford, New Jersey. In Missouri, Earth City has also expressed interest in possibly building a stadium and, if it really comes down to that, you can bet Mayor Slay and Co. would be willing to strike a bargain on behalf of downtown.4. LA isn't ready for an NFL team.
That's the logical destination for the franchise, since the nation's second-largest city is still without a team. But the Coliseum (where the Rams would likely play) is a nightmare for owners because its 100,000-plus capacity makes sell-outs nearly impossible and local TV blackouts all but guaranteed. Plus California is extremely cash-strapped, making any public financing for a new stadium unlikely.5. Karma.
Owners these days know they will be vilified if they steal a city's sports team. Some (like Clay Bennett, the asshat who moved the Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City) simply don't care what the public thinks. But after cautionary tales like Art Modell -- the erstwhile Browns owner who, to this day, is still unable to set foot in Cleveland for fear of being lynched -- owners like Kroenke are wary of the backlash. You really think the man who was born and raised in Missouri will risk being ostracized from the state's largest metropolitan area? Guess again, Garrison.Note: The views expressed in Tuesday Tussle do not necessarily
represent the stance of the author. In fact, the sides for these
arguments are determined by a coin toss.