Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
The NFL is a business. And even though the league and its owners are completely bankrolled and reliant on the passion and devotion of fans from across the country, they don’t really care. Money talks; and when one of the largest cities in the United States terms of population, media and market size doesn’t have a team, something was going to have to change.
Teams have been threatening and making moves from cities since the NFL’s beginning. In the case of St. Louis, they’ve been the victims just as often as they’ve been the winners.
Before the Rams came to town, it was the St. Louis Cardinals that made the move from Cleveland in 1960. When the Cardinals left for Arizona, St. Louis football fans had eight years of mourning before the Rams got to town.
Originally from California, the original Los Angeles Rams played in Anaheim for almost 50 years before getting relocated. Now, with the news official that the Rams are on their way back to Los Angeles, fans in St. Louis find themselves on the other end of what happens when their team leaves home.
And the move comes for a lot of the same reason. In 1994, the LA Rams were largely unimpressive, save for one or two solid players, namely running back Jerome Bettis. They weren’t seen as serious challengers in the league. The team struggled to sell tickets while animosity grew between the owners and fans as owner Georgia Frontiere tried to secure public money to build a new stadium in the downtown Los Angles area.
In 2015, the story is shockingly similar. The St. Louis Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003. In the past year, running back Todd Gurley was the only real bright spot on an uninspiring offense. Much to the dismay of frustration of fans and citizens of St. Louis, team owner Stan Kroenke wanted a new stadium. According to Athletic Business the city offered $124 million to renovate the Edward Jones Dome. Kroenke countered with a $700 million stadium renovation plan that was rejected by the city.
Governor Jay Nixon put a plan on the table for an entirely new stadium worth nearly $1 billion. Kroenke would be responsible for $250 million and another $330 million would have to come from the team itself.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Kroenke’s negotiations with the NFL about moving his team have been no secret, and now it’s happened. For fans in St. Louis, it’s a sickening feeling. The threat of an LA move has hung over the head of the Chargers and the Raiders, but as the pieces have come together, St. Louis has found themselves in the team in the headlights for the NFL owners ultimate threat.
With the LA slot filled, teams in struggling markets may finally be able to take a breath. But the NFL and its owners have shown that they’ll do what it takes to make sure business keeps booming. And with growing markets appearing in places like London and Mexico City, it may be only a matter of time before teams are under threat of a move all over again.