The St. Louis Rams announced on Friday that they will be playing one home game each year for the next three years at Wembley Stadium in London.
I was initially excited about the news—the Rams have a chance to be showcased on a global stage because of these games, and it gives great publicity not only to the NFL, but also to the city of St. Louis.
The more I think about this deal, though, the less excited I become about it.
In 2014, the Rams will have the option to leave the city of St. Louis unless significant upgrades are made to the Edward Jones Dome.
So far, Rams owner Stan Kroenke has been very vague with his answers to questions about the team's future. Through his answers, Kroenke has not given St. Louis fans much to be optimistic about, because he has not shown a strong desire to keep the team in St. Louis.
Conversely, Kroenke has not shown a strong desire to move the team either. The Rams apparent lack of commitment to the city of St. Louis has left the fans nervous that their football team could be moved, just like the St. Louis Cardinals football team was in 1987.
Many people have speculated that if the Rams move, it will be to Los Angeles. The Rams played in Los Angeles from 1946 until 1994, when they then moved to St. Louis. The NFL has also been rumored to want a team to once again be located in L.A.
It is still a strong possibility for the Rams to relocate to Los Angeles, but with the new news of the Rams playing in London, many people are now speculating that the Rams could call London their next home.
Since 2007, the NFL has been playing an annual game in London. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not made it a secret that he would like the NFL to become a global phenomenon. It has even been talked about that the commissioner would like to put an NFL team in London.
Could the Rams become that team? Could we see the London Rams in the near future?
The Rams are the first team who will visit London in consecutive years. Before this deal that will send the Rams to London for the next three years, the NFL would just send two different teams over to London each year.
The only reason the same team would be continuously sent overseas is to build up a fanbase. The NFL has already established fans in London who are excited about the sport of football. The job of the NFL now is to get the fans in London excited about a specific team. That team appears to be the St. Louis Rams.
Obviously, the NFL would be excited about going global, but what about Rams ownership? Would they rather stay in St. Louis, or move to London?
The question is almost ridiculous. Who would'nt want to move their team to London if they were currently in a small market city? Well, besides Green Bay—that would be terrible for the NFL.
It would be a historic movement for not only the NFL, but for professional sports in the United States. The publicity the team would receive would be astronomical. Imagine the publicity the Miami Heat receive and then multiply that by 100. It would be insane.
The fanbase would be enormous as well. Not only would London be filled with fans, but the entire United Kingdom would love this team. Wembley Stadium would be filled with well over 80,000 fans every Sunday.
Any owner who was not interested in this would be out of their mind, or just extremely loyal to their current city. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is probably not out of his mind, and he has yet to show extreme loyalty to the city of St. Louis.
Another reason London is a desirable location for the Rams is because Kroenke has a large amount of business experience in England already, due to his ownership of Arsenal Football Club.
For those who do not follow English soccer (although soccer is technically known as football outside of the United States, I will refer to it as soccer so that I do not confuse the two sports), Arsenal is one of the most successful soccer clubs in the Barclays Premier League. I would assume Kroenke will be at least enticed to move the Rams to London because of his connections in England.
The potential movement of the Rams is still three years away, and lots of things can and will develop over the next three years. For now, St. Louis fans should be excited. The Rams have a new head coach in Jeff Fisher, and appear to finally be on the proverbial right track in the rebuilding process.
With this being said, fans in St. Louis can not help but think that the Rams will soon be gone from St. Louis. Only time will tell, but the scene will be interesting when the St. Louis Rams take the field at Wembley Stadium on October 28th against the New England Patriots.
For now, all we can do is hope that the only Rams we see in London will be from St. Louis, and that the London Rams remain a dream that never comes to existence.