Updated: Jan 18
“Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.” Jim Mora
This is a formal, upfront warning to those who read this article. In wrestling or “Sports Entertainment” terminology, this does not work; it’s a shoot. This is how I genuinely feel about the NFL in STL, so let's begin.
I’m hurt, angry, disappointed, dismayed, jaded, apathetic these are just some of the words I’d use to describe my feelings towards the NFL. I don’t hate the player. I'm not too fond of the game. The game played on fans gave their hearts and souls for their favorite St. Louis football team.
It’s funny to think of the NFL in St. Louis saga that has gone from no team, to the Cardinals, to no team, to a possible expansion team, WHOOPS, actually not, HERE COME THE RAMS!!!! Only to get the fans' pockets picked by the NFL once again in an effort for ever-increasing profit margins. How many other markets have had these many opportunities at football, loved it, lived it, supported it, then had it ripped away without cause by the fans or ability to make money within their current market?
Let's cut the B.S., and let’s get down to it, shall we? This entire charade was orchestrated for your viewing pleasure by the NFL and their money-making scheming and St. Louis politicians posturing for reelection.
I’ll explain why.
In 1988 when the Big Red left for the desolate desert of Arizona, the NFL wanted nothing to do with allowing the football Cardinals to move to the land of the sun. The NFL wanted owner William “Bill” Bidwell to move the franchise to Baltimore in which the NFL felt was a better area to “Relocate.” Arizona, on the other hand, was seen within the NFL as a bastion for NFL expansion. In other words, it was better for the NFL financially.
St. Louis Mayor Vince Schoemehl and city civic leadership were also villains in all this, not to disregard the NFL’s involvement in the matter nor that of Bidwell. The problem is the fans of NFL football in St. Louis, and WE were hung out to dry by big-money owners, organizations, and big-city politics.
It’s as simple as that, or at least it seems.
At first, Schoemehl was all in with Gene Mcnary (former county executive) on plans of a state of the art facility not far from Riverport Verizon/Hollywood Amphitheater in Maryland Heights. Still, Schoemehl changed his tune and then wanted the Cardinals to stay within the city, and I think anyone reading knows why without explanation. POLITICS. If you would like a very detailed and comprehensive read on the matter, I implore any and read an article written by the talented Andrew Wagaman of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Link below
All that said, this is an opinion piece. It’s my opinion that big money and politics had gotten in the way of keeping the Big Red in STL. Bash the NFL all you want, complain on Bidwell all you want, but blame also lies at the steps of city leadership and their inexcusable inaction.
After the loss of the football Cardinals, the abortion that was the expansion attempt, we managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, at least for a short time until it came to light that once again. St. Louis, Mayor Freeman Bosley J.R., and County Executive George “Buzz” Westfall sold their collective souls in a “Do whatever it takes” to land a team in the L.A. Rams and created a sweetheart lease for them to escape back to the giant money pastures of LA.
So you can see why people feel disenfranchised.
Can you see why people are hurt over yet again losing another NFL franchise?
Is this how you feel? It’s damn sure the way I feel! I’m still pissed off about it. It infuriates me to no end, knowing the Big Red could’ve been saved, and we would never have had to go through all this mess. So I can relate to those who are hurting and saying that the NFL will never return in their lifetimes, I.E., 25-35 years. I don’t see it that way.
The question remains, how does the NFL return to St. Louis? The big thing is that no matter what the talking heads might say, the hunger for pro football in STL is alive and well even if there is “no appetite for the NFL in St. Louis.” among city leadership. They will listen when the fans say, “WE WANT OUR FOOTBALL BACK!”
Football is in STL’s nature. It’s in her blood. It’s in the family that scraped together enough money for PSL’s to watch the dreadful and woefully bad Rams from ’95 to ’98. It’s in season ticket holders that did not have the opportunity to see a Big Red playoff game at Busch. So no, it’s not up to them. It’s up to you and all the other like-minded people. If you want NFL football, if you miss it every season, then get out there and make it happen.
The small matter of the lawsuit involving St. Louis V.S. N.F.L. interesting side note, former Governor of the Missouri Jay Nixon and former stadium task force member Bob Blitz is working with the firm heading the lawsuit being pushed into discovery. What does that mean? The NFL and its owners who’d been shown in the case are required to show what they knew and when they knew it, ALL OF IT.
This is a court case now, and it’s legal. It’s not being held in some private conference room, and Jerry Jones isn’t flexing his money muscle. There isn’t a secret ballot vote in some plush destination spot for the NFL owners where they can claim to keep their hands clean of the matter, you know, plausible deniability.
If the NFL or any of the owners try to hamper the investigation, they’ll be held accountable to the letter of the law. What does that entail? I’m neither a lawyer or paralegal so that I couldn’t tell you. Still, I will say this, I damn sure hope it’s proved in court that they knew well in advance they, the NFL knew they were going to fleece the citizens of St. Louis/Missouri out of there football team and millions of dollars in the process to line their own pockets (If it doesn’t get settled out of court).
All that being said, I don’t think any of this will see the light of day. I’m a realist. I have a basic understanding of how these things work. Too many people have too much to lose.
There are a few scenarios that can ensue, and these are just a guess on my part.
One: It’s settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of monetary compensation, I.E., bonds on the Dome at Americas Center paid in full, whereas St. Louis and Missouri are no longer held to that debt.
Two: It’s settled for a more considerable amount that is owed, but no more than the $645 million relocation fee the Rams paid to move to LA.
Three: If you haven’t picked up what I’m putting down yet, this is my preferred scenario, The NFL settles with the city for the rest of the Dome bonds, pledges $300-$500 million to the construction of a new state of the art stadium, waive the expansion fee of $500 million* (*depends on timing), Ironclad 50-year lease with no escape clauses for a new St. Louis expansion team, and if you haven’t guessed it yet, a new NFL expansion team to boot.
There is a slight chance it goes all the way to court, which I highly doubt.
The lawsuit needs to be dealt with for a chance at the NFL returning to STL unless there is a concession on the NFL’s part.
Yup, but it also will take the local fan base to stand up and say, “We want the NFL.”
Cleveland, with the threat of suit, the NFL put the franchise into a 3-year “deactivation” until either a team relocated there or the NFL would gift Cleveland an expansion. The Cleveland lawsuit is an entirely different animal than what happened in STL, but there are many similarities.
Once again, this is pure speculation and a guess that I take this with a pinch of salt.
The threat of a court case exposing the NFL’s shady backroom business deals would hurt business, and the NFL couldn’t afford a black eye of that nature, not with two new leagues coming into existence in the next two years, the AAF and XFL. The same lies in the STL situation. I believe that the NFL pushed for the Rams to move out of STL. I don’t give Stan Kroenke enough credit to think it up on his own. The brain trust compounded this at New York NFL headquarters. I don’t buy for a second that Kroenke planned this all along on his own without the heavy help of the NFL.
Kroenke may have been approached before the purchase of the Rams, but after the passing of Georgia Frontiere by the NFL with a plan to reënter the LA market.
I feel all this happened around 2010. I think that this was planned by NFL powers that be. Too many pieces have come to light. Jeff Fisher, the former head coach, had been quoted in 2016 about his 2012 hiring, stating, “I decided on L.A., or St. Louis at the time, knowing there was going to be a pending move.” Per Fox Sports Via Fansided, please read the article attached.
So the fix was in from at least 2012. I feel since ’10. I genuinely think that the NFL had no other option to make it work in LA. They were never going to get public funds to build a stadium that people wanted to go out there in LA. They failed with an expansion attempt, which went to Houston, TX in 2002. Stan was the only person with the available cash to build a privately financed stadium and then some. It’s all in the numbers. I hate to admit it, but it looks like the case.
St. Louis was the odd man out in a sinister game of musical chairs. After knowing what we know now, the question is after seeing the full force of NFL treachery in their search for bigger and better profits.
Would you root for another NFL team in STL? I can tell you my answer. I’m willing and ready to forgive, not forget.
I’ll tell you about my perfect scenario. I want The Big Red back in the STL. I know it’s a long shot, but why would Michael Bidwell, the son of William “Bill” Bidwell, suddenly started doing charity work within St. Louis doing things that had not been expected. He has visited the area several times since the Rams left. Before that, when was the last time a Bidwell was in STL for a good time? I might be reaching. Here are some of their current details.
Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium
Team annual rent cost: $304,749 in 2017
Lease expiration: 2036
Stadium owner: Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority
Amount of public subsidy toward stadium construction: $300.4 million from a surcharge on tickets to events at the stadium as well as a tourism tax. The city of Glendale contributed $9.9 million.
Original construction cost: $455.7 million
I don’t think that there weren’t several owners very interested in the STL Stadium proposal. Forget the extra $100 million they were “Fundamentally” against being they turned around weeks later. They offered the same $100 million to San Diego and Oakland to stay in their former markets with no proposal in sight for either market.
STL has it together for the most part, at least more than some cities and their push for an NFL team.
I am ready for some football but, only if it’s The Big Red or an expansion with an iron-clad lease.
Thanks for reading
Derek King Sports