Will the Rams still be in St. Louis past 2015?
It's a sports subject that couldn't interest me more yet is something I couldn't be any more tired of discussing. However, whether it be messages from Rams fans or message-board chatter, it continues to be the dominating subject.
St. Louisans have a difficult time investing in a team or focusing on football until they have reassurance their continued dedication will pay off. We want to talk football, but the thought (no matter how small it is) of losing football again consumes most of us.
But fret not. There are rays of hope shining down on St. Louis Rams Nation brighter than the ones that will shine through the future glass roof panels in the Edward Jones Dome.
The most reassuring sign of the Rams remaining in St. Louis continues to be team president Kevin Demoff, who has spoken openly on more than one occasion about the desire to stay.
In a chat on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, Demoff said:
Stan has been emphatic on more than one occasion that he was part of the charge to bring a team to St. Louis, and that he did not do that to lead the charge out of St. Louis.
Public relations talk? Maybe.
However, it reaffirms the multiple interviews the Rams' president has done on local radio stations in recent months, stating the ultimate goal in recent business decisions and hires is to build a long-term winner in the city of St. Louis.
And that further reaffirms what owner Stan Kroenke said when coach Jeff Fisher was hired, that he has put a lot of "jack" into the city, and hopefully people realize what he has done here.
Will the Rams stay in St. Louis?
The Rams' owner doesn't give away his plans much, but he told fans to judge him on what he has already done for the area as this negotiating process plays out.
And don't rattle on about Demoff making these statements because he doesn't want to hurt attendance in St. Louis. If Los Angeles is really the cash cow that those wanting a return out west claim it to be, then two seasons of poor attendance in St. Louis mean squat.
The Rams are speaking publicly about their desire to stay in St. Louis when they could simply decline comment, and that's a good thing.
Also, the arbitrator between the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) and Rams will likely drop his or her ruling significantly below the Rams' $700 million proposal in my opinion, but it could go either way. It is not unreasonable to assume the Rams shot high in their proposal as is typical in negotiations.
Demoff has also hinted recently in radio interviews that the Rams would be willing to pay for a portion of the upgrades. So if you have Kroenke paying a chunk of the improvements, coupled with the NFL contributing through its G4 financing—the public's absorption of the improvements through taxes becomes much more manageable.
And that's not counting creative ways to finance the deal, including municipal bonds and a taxes on hotels and rental cars being redirected.
It is also reassuring that the arbitrator's ruling becomes binding for the Rams if the CVC accepts it. Kroenke may have the leverage, but having the final decision in St. Louis' hands is valuable.
And let's not forget, LA developers wanting to draw an NFL team don't have everything figured out yet. The NFL is not happy that AEG wants to purchase a large chunk of ownership from whatever team plays in its stadium at a discounted price.
It's tough to see how AEG alters their plans in a dramatic way because they have to recoup their funds in a manner in which maybe they would be better suited for a franchise team.
Does anyone think Kroenke, the cold hard business man, would sell at least 30 percent of the Rams, nonetheless at a discounted price? It's been Kroenke's goal to be the majority owner of a team.
Or does anyone really think Kroenke would spend $450 million just years ago to buy the remaining 60 percent of the team, just so he could in return get rid of it—probably at a lesser price?
Still, there is a long way to go. This process has about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. We are hardly approaching the two-minute warning.
Patience needs to be exercised, and cooler heads will prevail.