How the NFL saved St. Louis…by leaving

Updated: Jan 2, 2021


So, I grew up just outside of St. Louis during the ’80s when baseball was king. Whitey-ball was in full swing, and the Big Red football Cardinals were an afterthought.

Terrible football and St. Louis go hand in hand, kind of like coffee and gooey butter cake. The football Cardinals had suffered from long tenures of losing with brief glimpses of success. Yet we showed up to games. We supported a sub-par product being shuffled out onto the field from time to time was rightfully embarrassing to all the fans who were still supporting it.

William “Bill” Bidwill, the St. Louis Football Cardinals owner, had long been dissatisfied with playing second fiddle to the baseball Cardinals. However, the latter had very little to no success during the ’70s when the Big Red were at the heights of success, winning 2 division titles and 3 playoff births in 27 years in St. Louis.

Mr. Bidwill petitioned the city of St. Louis for a new publicly funded stadium to where he no longer had to share facilities with the baseball Cardinals. The city balked at the idea of a perennially bad football team pushing for millions of public money for a new stadium in St. Louis. During that time, the city had issues to address besides giving a millionaire millions more to build a stadium for a bad football team. It was egos at work at its finest.

Instead of negotiating with Bidwill over terms of a new facility and lease terms, the city, in all their infinite wisdom, decided to not negotiate with ownership and force Bidwill to find other avenues. City administrators thinking the whole time he’d never go. Much to their chagrin, he did.

Phoenix, Arizona

I was devastated, to say the least. Even as a child, football was everything to me. It felt like as I had lost my best friend. I became jilted and eventually got over the loss by rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs. At the time, they had just landed Joe Montana and were a very successful team. The only problem was, they weren’t my team. My team left me for a desert, A DAMN DESERT! How could they do that?!

So you see my dilemma, I had no team. I had, in all terms and purpose, became a free agent. During this entire search for my football soul, there were talks between the NFL and St. Louis about the NFL returning to the city. Officials passed a bill to build a new stadium in downtown St. Louis that would be christened the Trans World Dome at America’s Center.