Let me preface this entire piece by saying that my point of view may be slightly off, as I’m a St. Louis transplant residing four hours away, so I’m not in the middle of the pulse of the city on a regular basis.
Having said that…
The ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Rams of St. Louis is akin to watching a tennis match between two competitors who you aren’t really familiar with, and therefore lose interest the longer it goes on.
And both sides are to blame.
First, you have the guy with the second-worst hair in the National Football League (top honor goes to Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis), Stan Kroenke. He’s the proverbial Darth Vader of St. Louis. The all-mighty and powerful man with a plan, the money to back it all up, and seemingly has zero (cares) to give.
His intentions are well-known: be the financial supplier for a state-of-the-art facility in Inglewood (Los Angeles) and move the Rams back out west. The Los Angeles market has become that hot new girlfriend that has his eye, while St. Louis at this point is the old ball-and-chain that he’s grown tired of being with, and can’t be bothered to return her phone calls.
Now, I’ll call this as I see it. Moving the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, at least short-term, would be a major financial gain for a guy who is, after all, a businessman first and foremost. By going out into that market, the overall value of your franchise will immediately go up. Couple that with a brand new stadium and entertainment complex that would demand unquestionable attention from the masses – at least for the first year or so. After that, it’s up the Kroenke to put a product on the field that will actually encourage fans to buy tickets and come out to support. Fans who could easily be distracted by other, much cheaper options, such as the beach. I’ll give credit where it’s due to Rams fans, who in spite of this team’s future hanging in extreme limbo, and continuing to be a disappointment in terms of success, still showed reasonable attendance numbers through the 2014 season.
St. Louis stadium task force leaders Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz put together a pretty good presentation for a new, open-air stadium. Even after various tweaks and modifications made to the plan due to logistics, it still looks pretty impressive. Couple that with the agreement struck with the labor unions to approve around-the-clock shifts that would cut overall costs plus reduce the construction time, and things look promising for having a new home for a team set to stay in St. Louis, right?
Not so much.
The cold reality of the situation is that Stan Kroenke is a man with what, for lack of a better term, has F-YOU money. Sure, he’d be faced with the NFL by-laws of ownership voting to approve or deny a relocation of the Rams organization. However, we’re talking about a guy who could could easily sustain any fine thrown at him by the league for moving without permission, and losing no sleep over it. If he truly wants to go, he’s going to go, and who’s going to stop him?
And will we ultimately even care?