By Dylan Lalk
Six years ago Stan Kroenke and the NFL robbed St. Louis of a team, and it couldn’t have been a worse decision.
The NFL needs to consider coming back to St. Louis and giving it a team that cares about the city.
On Jan. 4th 2016, the then St. Louis Rams filed for relocation to move from St. Louis to the greater Los Angeles area. This was a decision that was seen as a good thing for the league as it would bring a team to one of the biggest markets in the country. However, the NFL took a team away from one of the best sports markets in St. Louis.
The man at fault for this is one person, and that is Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He orchestrated a multi-year plan in order to move the Rams away from St. Louis. Kroenke purchased the remaining stake in the Rams in 2010 to become the full owner of the team. He then set his sights on moving the team to Los Angeles.
Before filing for relocation, St. Louis proposed a new stadium on the riverfront, due to the Edward Jones Dome being ranked near the bottom of the leagues stadiums. According to CBS Sports, St. Louis agreed to the $1.1 billion stadium deal, but the NFL and Goodell didn’t want to pay the $500 million they were asked to pay. If Kroenke really wanted to stay in St. Louis, he would have worked in order to get the NFL to help fund the stadium.
Kroenke wanted to move the Rams much earlier than 2016 as he purchased land in Los Angeles on January 31st, 2014 which is two years before they moved. According to ESPN, Kroenke purchased nearly 60 acres of land in Inglewood, California. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that this was no big deal, as Kroenke purchases land everywhere.
It turned out to be a big deal.
The Rams essentially played the 2014 and 2015 seasons with one foot out the door. That isn’t exactly something that would entice fans to show up.
The Rams sold out every home game from 1995 to 2006. Fans supported the team when it was clear they loved St. Louis. Once Kroenke gained full control, it was clear what his motivations were and the fans realized this.
St. Louis has proved to be a fantastic market for sports, as the St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Cardinals have always been near the top of the league in attendance. The new MLS team, St. Louis City SC has also sold out its first three home games.
Where St. Louis has really shown its passion is the new XFL run by Dwayne Johnson. St. Louis had a team during the 2020 installment before it was cut short by the pandemic and they were given the team again for good reason. The Battlehawks have proven to be a staple in the XFL.
St. Louis has shattered attendance numbers in the XFL this season. According to XFL News Hub, It owns the three highest-attended games this season which are all over 35,000. The average attendance for the XFL has been around 16,000. Let that sink in – The Battlehawks have doubled the average attendance at every home game. The next highest attended game is 24,000 at the Alamodome, which is the home of the San Antonio Brahmas.
Their opponent that game? The Battlehawks. St. Louis has accounted for the four highest-attended games in the XFL.
St. Louis has shown to support a team that actually cares about the city which is something Kroenke didn’t do.
Some would point to the fact that St. Louis ranked near the bottom of the league in attendance in the early 2010’s. However, Kroenke and company made no effort to compete in St. Louis. He knew if he put a good product on the field, the fans would come, so he tried his best to put a bad product on the field.
Over the course of six years from 2010 to 2016 the Rams played quarterback carousel. The list of quarterbacks is Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Kellen Clemens, Shaun Hill, and Austin Davis. If you don’t know those names I don’t blame you, because they are all backup quarterbacks.
After just one year in Los Angeles the Rams decided it was time to get a quarterback, which they did when they traded multiple first round picks to trade up for Jared Goff who led them to a Super Bowl. Is it a coincidence they got a quarterback after moving to LA? I think not.
Kroenke quickly became the most hated man in St. Louis, which has led to “Kroenke Sucks” chants at Blues and Cardinals games.
While St. Louis enjoys the Battlehawks and their love for the city, Kroenke can keep watching his team’s stadium be filled in the enemies’ colors, because Los Angeles doesn’t care about the Rams.
If the NFL were to expand again, it would be in their best interests to consider St. Louis.