Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rams Scenarios Not Pretty

There's no way to stop Stan Kroenke from taking the Rams to L.A. If he really wants to, he will. You know by now he really wants to.

We all know he's smart enough to have thought about all the possible scenarios before he put tons of his dollars into the Inglewood site. Do we really think that he'd be this far along with the Inglewood entertainment complex without considering all possible outcomes?

One of those scenarios is-- The league denies his relocation application...the worst that could happen from his standpoint. Then what? Does he operate a team in a market where he has totally alienated the fan base?...where casual fans will be much more likely to stay at home to watch the games on TV than buy a ticket...for years to come? Forgiveness of such an owner doesn't come quickly here in the Midwest. Not gonna happen. He has already thought that through and will spend whatever money it takes to fight the league and his fellow owners in court. He will call the moving vans and the team will become the Los Angeles Rams again anyway. We have plenty of evidence already that he has given up on St. Louis as his market of choice.

Even if the league prefers the Carson/Chargers/Raiders stadium plan, if Stan thinks he can get his team operating in Los Angeles before that project is underway, he'll do it. That would force the league owners to decide whether to approve the Chargers/Raiders stadium plan with Stan already there. Would they? Doubtful.

That's where things could get really messy because they don't want a 3-team L.A. market. Would the other owners disenfranchise Stan and take away his official membership in the league? Could there be a trade of franchises worked out to satisfy everyone? There are many other possibilities, none of which come into play unless the new stadium in St. Louis gets approval and is built.

If it all goes Stan's way, does St. Louis lose its second NFL franchise in 30 years? Obviously, the answer is yes. The best-case scenario then would be that it's only temporarily.

If Commissioner Goodell and Stan's fellow owners have an ounce of integrity, they will make some type of deal with the Dave Peacock team and the fans of this market to locate a team here. Again, that's if the Nixon task force is successful in getting the stadium built. If St. Louis gets a team sooner or later would then be the question. If such a deal is made, and the L.A. Rams are back in business, who do St. Louisans get to be excited about?

Could it be the Raiders? Apparently not under the current ownership, from what Mark Davis has said publicly. "No interest in operating in St. Louis". You have to take him at his word, although he's in the business of supporting the Carson project at this point.

Could it be the Jaguars? Shahid Khan-the Midwest guy to the right- doesn't appear to be pining for an opportunity in St. Louis, although he put in that bid for the Rams a few years back. I'm sure the league would prefer a team in the 21st television market rather than the 47th. But in comments after Tuesday's presentations in Chicago, Khan seems to have moved on from his St. Louis desires. He gives the impression of being happy with the situation in Florida. Or he is playing it coy.

Are there any other existing smaller market teams/owners that might enjoy a new, riverfront palace in St. Louis in which to rake in dollars? Questionable. Cincinnati, Buffalo, KC, Green Bay, Tennessee, and a few others are in lesser-populated markets, but all have strongly-established brands and fan bases in them. And none have, for public consumption, groused about a stadium situation like the California teams. So you wouldn't expect a rush to fill the void in St. Louis.

A market move for an existing team would be complicated and drawn-out. And any such application for market transfer would take years. So we would likely be facing a similar situation time-wise to what St. Louis had after the Bidwill/Cardinals move to Phoenix. The key in that situation would be to have a hard-and-fast commitment from the NFL that a team would be located in St. Louis if the stadium gets built. And is that even a possibility? Expansion? Are we ready for more years of losing?

If you are one who believes that St. Louis football fans will come out of this OK, I'd like to hear your argument. If you don't care, I understand. If you are against providing an NFL owner with a single dollar of public money, I get that too. But if you are interested in the NFL still calling the Gateway City one of its homes, the picture doesn't look like it's shaping up all that well from where I sit. Remember Silent Stan has the money to call his shot.

The next key date on the calendar is October 6/7 when the Peacock team updates the stadium plan for the owners. Owner/league reaction after that should go a long way toward clarifying the possibility of pro football being a part of the St. Louis self-image for the next few decades.

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