Take Heart St. Louis, the Rams Are Staying Put

Brian CarsonCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 21:  Marc Bulger #10 of the St. Louis Rams pitches the ball to Steven Jackson #39 during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 21, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 49ers won 17-16. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Don't worry Rams fans; you won't be losing another team. I promise you won't get burned again.

The news that Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are selling their controlling interest in the franchise shouldn't come as a big surprise.

They have to sell.

After the death of their mother, Georgia Frontiere, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez took control of her 60 percent interest in the club. Neither wanted to own a football team. Rosenbloom is a movie producer and Rodriguez is heavily involved in charity and non-profit work. Their hearts aren't in football ownership.

Add to that a hefty inheritance tax looming on the horizon, and it's obvious Rosenbloom and Rodriguez want out. Even so, they have the best interest of St. Louis and Rams fans at heart.

They've done a decent job trying to rebuild a club that is 5-27 over the past two seasons. President John Shaw was forced into retirement, and the siblings unloaded GM/Player Personnel chief Jay Zygmunt, a lawyer by trade, and replaced him with Billy Devaney, a football man.

Devaney jumped into action right away, dismissing interim head coach Jim Haslett, replacing him with Steve Spagnuolo.

Spagnuolo was a solid choice, based on his successful years in Philadelphia and as defensive coordinator of the Giants. On the field, the Rams appear to be in good hands. It shouldn't take a coach like Spagnuolo long to bring a winner back to the Gateway City.

Off the field, things haven't been as smooth.

Rosenbloom has tried for over a year to find local ownership for the club with no such luck. Now the family has hired Goldman Sachs, an investment banking firm, to find a buyer for the team. And it doesn't matter if he's a St. Louisan or not.

This sent Rams fans into a tizzy. Thoughts of 1988, Bill Bidwell, and the football Cardinals leaving town came dancing in their heads. The paranoia has spread to the Internet with blog and forum posts screeching like the Rams are already gone.

Relax everyone. Take a deep breath. Just relax.

Relax...don't do it. When you want to go to it.

Sorry. I just had a bad '80s flashback. I'm all better now.

Listen up. The Rams will stay in St. Louis. They won't be leaving for a long, long time. Here are some logical reasons why.

First, the economy sucks. There isn't a better way to state it. The economic situation is in the mud right now and the only cities financially able to handle an NFL franchise at this moment are Los Angeles and Toronto.

Toronto wants the Buffalo Bills, forget them. Los Angeles has already lost three franchises in the past (Chargers, Rams, and Raiders) and there is uncertainty in NFL inner circles if L.A. will even support a team anymore.

Second, the lease at the Edward Jones Dome runs until 2014, so the Rams are still locked into St. Louis for another five years. That's plenty of time to work out a way to revamp the Ed to make it a top-tier NFL stadium. In the long run, it will be cheaper and easier to upgrade than try to get taxpayers to front a new one.

Third, Rosenbloom opening up the bidding will get the locals off their hands and into the fray to keep the team from leaving. This has already happened. Dave Checketts, owner of the St. Louis Blues, has stated publicly he's put together a group ready to buy the franchise. Talks with Rosenbloom are ongoing.

The Rams have been valued by Forbes magazine at $929 million, but the new ownership group will have to fork over only the 60percent share owned by Rosenbloom and Rodriguez. Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, owns the other 40 percent.

That's still a ton of money, but not overwhelming for a solidly backed group like Checketts supposedly has.

Fourth, and maybe most important, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to keep the team in St. Louis. It's no secret one of Goodell's goals is to have a franchise in Los Angeles, but he doesn't want it to be the Rams.

St. Louis is one of the major cities in the Midwest with the 20th largest media market in the United States. Only Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Cleveland are larger markets in the Midwest.

The St. Louis fans are some of the most rabid and loyal in sports. They support their teams through thick and thin. Goodell doesn't want to betray that loyalty and I don't think Rosenbloom wants to either.

Be patient Rams fans. When the dust from this finally settles, your team will be right where it belongs: still in St. Louis.


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