Keep the Rams in St. Louis!
I am sure that all local St. Louis Rams fans are reeling from the news broken this morning by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The struggling team is for sale by its owners, and very few people in a mid-level Midwestern city like this one can afford to buy them. So, chances are, someone who doesn't live in St. Louis and doesn't have local fans' best interests at heart will wind up owning our football team.
Plus, the Rams' contract with their downtown stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, runs out in 2014, and a loophole in that contract says that if the venue isn't among the top 25 percent most popular places to see an NFL game, the team has the right to either demand serious upgrades or move to a new stadium.
No one who's spent time sitting in that charmless monstrosity has any illusions that there's any way that this can be accomplished, and building yet another new stadium will probably be way too much for already overburdened St. Louis taxpayers to stomach.
So, the future doesn't look sunny for the team staying in the St. Louis area. My guess is that some rich, slick businessman from the west coast will buy the team and try to move them back to the Los Angeles area.
There's far more people with far more money in Los Angeles to sell merchandise and tickets to than there are here in the middle of the country. Los Angeles is a more lucrative television and radio market.
And, let's face it, getting publicity by having locals like Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise sit in the front row of your stadium will always be more impressive to most television viewers than the presence of St. Louis's most famous full-time resident, Buckley, the talking Insta-Credit Auto Mart dog.
However, I think pulling the Rams out of the city where they have experienced their greatest successes would be a mistake.
St. Louis is a true sports city, one of the best in the country, full of passionate fans that are loyal to our professional teams. Sports in St. Louis are sacred, because, really, going to games is the only fun thing to do in this town.
We have seen the Rams at their heights, and yet, through the last dismal two seasons, the Rams games are all close to sold out and enthusiasm for them remains high. We can be optimists besides all evidence to the contrary, which is the mark of any real fan of the game.
I don't think you'll find that kind of loyalty in Los Angeles, a city that takes show business much more seriously than it will ever take any sport. Even that city's greatest team, the Lakers, are judged more by which celebrities are sitting courtside than by how they actually perform during their games.
So, a football team is going to have to work very hard to get the attention of the general populace there, and a team that plays as sloppily as the Rams have in the last couple of seasons probably isn't going to inspire much of the fan support that they enjoy here.
Despite our admitted lack of a great football facility, this city has proven that it can support an NFL franchise, even when luck is not on their side. That can't be said of too many other cities in this country that currently lack a team of their own.
I know that there are financial forces at work here that are beyond the understanding of the population of basement dwelling bloggers that write and read Bleacher Report.
That said, teams wouldn't make any money at all without fans to support them, and for the sake of Rams fans in St. Louis and around the country, let's hope we can find a way to keep the Rams where they belong, right here in the middle of America.
They'll never be the "Greatest Show on Turf" again if we don't.
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