Why the Rams were a necessary loss for St. Louis
A Bitter Fan
It was never about the fan base, it was never about the people following the sport. As it has seemed to go throughout the NFLs recent history, the league and the Rams owners made it abundantly clear that money talks more than people or even players.
In the last years of the St. Louis Rams, I was not much of a follower. I can't say that I was ever a dedicated fan to begin with. But what I did take issue with was the clear desire by Stan Kroenke to remove the Rams from a St. Louis fan base that had grown to love them since their move from Los Angelos in 1995.
But as I said before, it was only about money in terms of value, and in 2019, value in professional sports is as much about internet clicks as it is about fans in the seats. Just take a look at the "loyal" Rams fan base from their home playoff game against the Cowboys. Most likely, about half of all loyal Rams fans are still in St. Louis.
But it was never about the fans. It is about profitability, and hitting the bottom line.
Why not St. Louis
Looking at the future plans for the LA stadium at Hollywood park, which would include hosting games for the Chargers AND the Rams, includes hosting a Super Bowl, olympic games, and more.
St. Louis would never have offered the support or draw for fans to come here to watch any of these events, and Kroenke knew it would be at the very least undesirable to bring two fans bases into the city for a Super Bowl, let alone world recognized olympic games in 2028.
As a fan of St. Louis sports, one of the things I have always truly enjoyed has been our seeming anonymity. Looking at the literal CITY that Kroenke is building in Los Angeles has made me more willing to accept the loss of the Rams, but I can't say that it exactly makes me any happier about their upcoming Super Bowl appearance.
The idea of a stadium on the river, a stadium full of loyal St. Louis sports fans waving rally towels in the freezing cold, bringing some of footballs biggest stars into St. Louis seems like a great way to grow the brand of the Rams, and make them a more historic franchise. Just look at the greatest show on turf.
Looking at the history of the Rams, their time in St. Louis was defined by one of the greatest Rams teams to ever come together, finishing with a Super Bowl win, the ONLY Super Bowl win in franchise history. But it wasn't good enough.
The sad but true story of the Rams is a team who hasn't had a loyal following since their time in Los Angelos in the late 50's-early 60's, that was until they were in St. Louis. But again, the team was moved, making it all but impossible for the Rams to grow a loyal and life long fanbase.
The bottom line for me, as a fan of St. Louis sports, if that we have the fans to make the Rams profitable. We have the fans to make a fan base to match the likes of Packers fans or Patriots fans. Unfortunately, we weren't given more than a few years of great moments, making it hard for a real fan base to grow behind the Rams.
No city in the country holds on to their sports heroes like St. Louis. If you think David Freese pays for anything in St. Louis still, you are out of your mind. Even Kurt Warner was adored by St. Louis sports fans when he led the Cardinals (football) to face the Steelers in the Super Bowl. St. Louis could have more than adequately supported the Rams.
The Cardinals are a franchise that continues to lead the baseball in yearly average attendance, because the Cardinals have not left us, because the Cardinals have spent 100+ years growing fan support and adoration. St. Louis University was capable of bringing in a 10,000 seat stadium that they are more than capable of filling up.
The Cardinals didn't come in for 20 years on a loan. It is impossible to grow a franchise and a brand if the team is being tanked by the owner, and hasn't been relevant since the early 2000s. But the Rams were never a St. Louis team.
St. Louis teams are defined by loyalty. Loyalty to the city, loyalty to the fans, loyalty to growing into the city and accepting that the journey will be long and slow. Stan took the easy way out and went for the quick money, which may be profitable for him, but will not grow him into a business great.
When Stan Kroenke dies, he will be forgotten as another millionaire, because he followed in the foot steps of others who had paved the way to make professional sports teams into billion dollar industries.
While St. Louis baseball fans may be harsh on Bill Dewitt and John Mozeliak, they have diligently worked to grow not only the value of the St. Louis Cardinals, but worked in the best interest of the on field product, even if it requires being an average team, they have worked hard to live up to the expected quality of the organization, and with Bill Dewitt Jr. in the mix, it is safe to assume that the Cardinals will continue on that same path. And for that, St. Louis thanks you.
Loyalty, a trait the Rams will never have. Are the Rams going to be Super Bowl contenders? Absolutely.
Are the Rams moving into a beautiful new complex in LA, surrounded by an entire city? Yes.
But they share this complex with another team, meaning the fans coming in and out of the stadium will be split on favorites, allowing for poisonous fan base, willing to drop support for the hottest team. In St. Louis, fans were showing up for the Rams, and sticking with them for better or worse, mainly worse.
In LA, the Rams will be supported, kind of, when they are good. They are currently playing second fiddle to Lebron, Kershaw, and two of the most historic sports franchises in sports history, the Dodgers and the Lakers. Their one championship came from a city they no longer belong to.
By ditching the St. Louis fan base they had created, they cast themselves into the already over crowded market of LA. Sure the Rams came from LA to begin with, but in leaving LA to begin with, they showed a lack of loyalty to that city, and it has to be clearly understood by anyone following the situation that they only moved to LA for the money.
No Longer a Bitter Fan
While watching the Rams/Saints matchup, I was filled with frustration over the fact that this team could have done the same thing in St. Louis. I was caught trying to decide whether I wanted to support this team, or hate its owner. I can say that I no longer take issue with the Rams, but wish them the best of luck.
Should they win the Super Bowl, that should be credited as much to St. Louis as it will be to Los Angeles. Credit to the St. Louis fans who dealt with the games Stan Kroenke played here, credit to the fans who continued to support this team when everyone was expecting them to bail on the city, credit to the city who put together a beautiful stadium proposal on the river when the organization asked for an upgrade.
But above all, credit to a city and a fan base that put up with consecutive losing seasons in order to allow Kroenke to move.
If the Rams win, the parade will be just another party for LA, forgotten in an instant. Legends will not be born in LA for the Rams. The Rams do not have a loyal fan base, and playing for that team will not be enough of a draw to grow them into a successful franchise long term. The goal for the new LA stadium is to continue to make money even when the team isn't good. Kroenke has essentially built a money machine for city, not a thriving NFL franchise.
Goodell and his money grubbing goons sold out to the monopoly man, and will have a front row seat to watch as Kroenke continues to grow his reality empire in LA.