In the past week, there have been plenty of upsets around the sports world: The NBA lost their chance to see the over-hyped Kobe/Lebron Finals match up (so much for Nike’s “Most Valuable Puppets”), the Penguins decided not to have this year’s Stanley Cup Finals be a carbon-copy of last season… heck, even Joey Chestnut lost to Takeru Kobayashi in a pizza-contest.
One town in particular, though, is fretting a potentially much larger upset. One that could cost nearly a billion dollars to prevent. The town is Saint Louis, and they’re in trouble.
No, I’m not talking about just how they’re going to renew Albert Pujols’ contract in two years so he doesn’t go to the Yankees (that’s another crisis for another day).
StL’s disaster, rather, revolves around an entire team: The Rams.
Since initial owner Georgia Frontiere passed away last year, her two children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez have decided they don’t want to keep the team anymore, and have finally put it up for sale.
While this is not the biggest story in the sports world—or even in the NFL, for that matter—I can speak on behalf of St. Louis fans that they are genuinely worried about losing their football team.
To understand exactly why Rams fans are so concerned, one need look no further than what’s happened to St. Louis’ football teams in the past 20 years.
The now-Arizona Cardinals were at one point a staple in St. Louie, the “Big Red” that spent nearly 30 years in the Gateway City. Then in 1987, owner Bill Bidwell packed the team up and shipped them to the desert after losing out on a bid to build a brand new football stadium for his Cardinals.
St. Louis was left empty-handed until 1995, when the Los Angeles Rams were relocated to StL—and a new football stadium was finally built.
Well now not only are the Rams for sale, but if their Edward Jones Dome is not one of the top NFL stadiums by 2015, the team can opt out of its lease. Right now, the Eddie Dome ranks in the bottom five stadiums in the league, maybe even lower.
So while St. Louis scrambles to find a way to save the team and its home, potential billionaires out in L.A. are licking their chops at the prospect of moving the Rams back to their original stomping ground.
St. Louis already watched Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch, the beer giant’s home for centuries, get bought out by the bigger/richer European brewer InBev last summer. Now, they could see their struggling football team get bought out by a bigger/richer owner in another city.
Seriously, couldn’t they just sell the Arch or something instead?
The bailout St. Louisians need, though, might be forming now. In fact, the answer might be just several blocks from the Eddie Dome at the Scottrade Center—where the St. Louis Blues play.
Dave Checketts, owner of the Blues, is trying to rally together a team of investors to buy the minimum 60 percent of the team required. While the discussions are still extremely premature, word on the street is that Checketts is preparing a serious run at buying the Rams, and keeping them in St. Louis.
It’s not that Rosenbloom and Rodriguez don’t want to keep the team in StL, but they’re run out of options since no St. Louisian with big bucks has stepped up to try and buy the team. As a result, the Rams will try to stick in St. Louis—unless a buyer from out of state sweeps up the team and decides otherwise.
And that’s just the beginning, ‘cause then there’s still the whole issue with the Eddie Dome needing a complete makeover within the next five years, which could potentially cost St. Louis taxpayers millions.
…Maybe the Arch and the secret recipe behind how to make Budweiser? (Oh yeah, StL doesn’t own that anymore either…)
Growing up in St. Louis and a Rams fan since their Cinderella Super-Bowl run in 1999, you heard it here that St. Louisians are genuinely worried about losing their second football team in 30 years.
While StL is and forever will be Baseball Town U.S.A., there are plenty of passionate-die hard football fans that have embraced the Rams since the Cardinals left. It is not a fare-weathered sports town at all. It would be a huge shot to the city’s ego to lose another—and most likely last—football team.
Rosenbloom and Rodriguez rebuilt the team’s front office this off-season. Fans are excited by the Rams new leadership, hoping they can built themselves back into contenders again.
But it’ll all be for nothing if there’s no team around to watch.
So for now, Rams fans will sit and—quite uneasily—wait. Until someone steps up with the cash, the Rams are on life support in St. Louis.
Unless StL is willing to give up maybe the Arch, secret Budweiser recipe and their GM car plant?
…Never mind. That’s already gone too.
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