St Louis Makes Last-Ditch Effort to Keep Rams
The NFL’s latest drive to place a team back in Los Angeles seems to be wringing hands everywhere but in Los Angeles.
The City of Angels lost its two transplanted teams, the Raiders and Rams, on Christmas Eve 1994, and despite its citizens' general ambivalence, has seen a number of groups assume it wanted to return to its status as an NFL city.
But frankly, with the exception of a few die-hards, local sentiment was that the league is as forgettable as the play that served as LA's last:
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have paired up on a proposal to build a stadium in Carson. Then there's the St Louis Rams, whose owner intends to build a stadium in Inglewood:
The Rams plan to move to LA has been in the works since 2013, when team owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land close to the recently closed Hollywood racetrack.
Plans were announced a year later to build a football stadium as part of a major development project in the area. It got a big boost earlier this year when the Inglewood City Council infamously approved the $2billion, 80,000-seat billionaire's playpen.
Kroenke is intent on moving to LA, for the obvious reason.
Los Angeles is the second-largest media market in the country, while St Louis ranks 21st on that list. And while baseball's Cardinals defy that status due to its rabid fan base, Kroenke turns up his nose at them to the extent that he's willing to share LA if it will guarantee him the big move.
The St Louis market's been here before. Few of its populace shed tears when the football Cardinals and their wack job of an owner pulled up stakes for Phoenix.
Kroenke, who married into the Wal-Mart fortune, has never really warmed the locals' hearts. It's one reason why the Rams currently have the lowest average home attendance as well as the lowest percentage of attendance to stadium capacity. They've been in the bottom five of home attendance percentage every season since 2011, where they were sixth-lowest in percentage of home attendance.
Ironically, the city's officials don’t seem ready to give up hope on keeping the Rams. This past week, the St Louis Board of Aldermen, with support of the Missouri governor, approved a plan to build a $1.1billion stadium near the Mississippi River. The city would be responsible for $150million, relying on the NFL to provide $300 million.
Nice plan, except for one detail: the NFL only allows for pitching in a maximum of $200million for construction costs, a policy that Commissioner Roger Goodell has made clear isn't going to abide exceptions.
Will this last effort be enough to keep the Rams in the Gateway City?
It's only hope is enough of the NFL's ownership cabal -- nine owners -- think the St Louis effort has sufficient substance to warrant the franchise remaining.
Fittingly, what could be their last game was the Condiment Bowl, where the first chant indicated an element of local fans weren't excited about losing the club.
If so, their final look at the Rams wasn't pretty:
Neither was the follow-up cheer:
Straight from the heart.