“There’s a track record. I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I’m stepping up one more time.”
“I’m born and raised in Missouri. I’ve been a Missourian for 60 years. People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I’m an honorable guy.”
“I’m going to attempt to do everything I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis.”
The above quotes have been attributed through the years to one man, Stan Kroenke.
Now you know why so many fans of the St. Louis Rams football team felt betrayed, disgusted, and angry that Kroenke showed little remorse during a press conference last week where NFL owners just voted 30-2 to allow the franchise to leave town.
The Rams are now heading back to Los Angeles, where the franchise previously served that market from 1946-1994.
Though the team wasn’t moved like the Baltimore Colts when then owner Bob Irsay moved the team in the middle of the night and left this 5-year-old boy crying in his living room, being told one thing and watching another develop didn’t sit well with Rams fans.
As if their owner’s false word wasn’t enough, he bashed St. Louis in a 29-page relocation application on the way out the door. His report said that St. Louis cannot support three professional sports teams. In spite of what he called “significant” investments in the team, game attendance was “well below the League’s average.”
The report also said that St. Louis “lags, and will continue to lag, far behind the economic drivers that are necessary for sustained success of an NFL franchise.”
Kroenke was turning a blind eye to struggles in markets like Detroit, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. The cities don’t have great growth but are considered good NFL cities.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then took on efforts by Gov. Jay Nixon, Dave Peacock, and Bob Blitz who raised access to $400 million in public money towards the construction of a riverfront football stadium in St. Louis.
The effort was made, perhaps a little late, but shouldn’t be discredited.
In fact, NFL Finance Chairman Bob McNair also pledged an extra $100 million of league money for the project in exchange for a ticket-tax abatement for the team.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined Kroenke in criticizing the city as the team became the second NFL franchise to leave St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals NFL team previously moved in 1988.
Goodell gave his spin on the situation and said that the stadium project would not get the $100 million contribution.
One day later, Goodell gave $100 million a piece to the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders to address their stadium issues. This move was in spite of city and state officials in California doing absolutely nothing to get public funding together for constructing a new stadium. In fact, those two cities were unable to file a stadium proposal by the NFL’s December 30 deadline while St. Louis officials went through the relocation playbook to try its best in keeping the team.
At the end of the day, Kroenke had his mind made up and I believe he’s been eyeing a return to Los Angeles for years and the NFL didn’t care what St. Louis did to try and keep the team.
Since Kroenke took full control of ownership in 2010, it doesn’t appear he’s made many appearances in St. Louis. He apparently hired Head Coach Jeff Fisher in 2012, who ironically was the coach of the Houston Oilers when they moved to Tennessee to become the Titans during the 1997-1998 season.
What are the odds of one NFL coach leading two teams that have relocated? Meanwhile, Fisher has a record of 27-36 in St. Louis. In 2014, Kroenke bought 60 acres of land in Inglewood, California in 2014. His group issued a statement after the purchase.
“While we can confirm media reports that we recently purchased land in Inglewood, as a private company we don’t typically discuss our plans for commercial or residential investments,” the statement said. “We have yet to decide what we are going to do with the property but we will look at all options, as we do with all our properties.”
Another apparent lie and Rams fans knew back then that the end of the road was coming quick.
This was followed by the team moving to a one-year lease with the Edward Jones Dome in 2015 after the original lease agreement gave the franchise this option. Unfortunately, city officials should have never allowed this option to be on the table when the team moved to St. Louis to play in the Dome in the 1990s.
To pour more salt into the wounds of St. Louis fans, Kroenke’s namesake comes from famous St. Louis athletes Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial. Kroenke’s full name is Enos Stanley “Stan” Kroenke.
“While there understandably has been emotionally charged commentary regarding our motives and intentions, the speculation is not true and unfounded,” Kroenke wrote in a statement. “I am a Missouri native named after two St. Louis sports legends who I was fortunate enough to know on a personal level. This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will. No matter what anyone says, that will never change.”
He even invokes the names of St. Louis legends and is named after them as he sticks it to the city with the team leaving town.
So now what? Will St. Louis ever get another NFL franchise? My gut feeling is no but it depends on whether the NFL will be willing to change its harsh stance on the market that sets a bad precedent for future city’s facing the same issues. The NFL has been wanting to put a franchise in London, England and keeps increasing the number of games played there each year. If a new team is added, the NFL’s history shows they like to add two franchises at a time. This is where St. Louis could attempt to get a team yet again. Whatever they do, a new team must be rebranded for the city. They can’t afford to have the Oakland Raiders move to the market to become the St. Louis Raiders. A franchise will only survive if it can be rebranded to the town. Only time will tell if NFL football will ever return to the Gateway City.