Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
The elephant in the Edward Jones Dome is finally starting to draw some chatter.
The discussions St. Louis Rams fans have dreaded for years have begun to emerge.
“Rams would be Los Angeles-bound if not for the NFL.”
“NFL-to-LA talks may be revived.”
“Eric Dickerson: The Rams should move back to Los Angeles.”
Well, I guess that last one isn’t that surprising, but nonetheless, the buzz surrounding the Rams’ permanence in St. Louis hasn’t been great. Rams fans — they’re out there, I swear — are starting to come to terms with the fact that their team might not be in town much longer.
So I ask: Is that such a bad thing?
To a hardcore Rams fan, that might sound blasphemous, so let me establish my credentials real quick.
The Rams are my team. As much as it pains me to admit it, the Rams — more than the Blues and yes, more than the Cardinals — are the team that I’ve lived and died with more than any other. That seems rather masochistic, considering the way they’ve played the last decade, but it is what it is.
Maybe it’s because the NFL is the most popular league in the country, and having your football team succeed seems like just a little bit bigger of a deal. Maybe it’s because, in my mind, the Rams’ magical 1999 season just can’t be topped. I don’t know why, but I am first and foremost a Rams fan.
So why would I ever want them to leave?
It’s no surprise, as this year has shown to the world at large, St. Louis as a city doesn’t exactly have it all together at the moment. The conflicts in Ferguson, regardless of your stance, have highlighted the underlying tensions that have been brewing for decades. And funding a stadium is certainly low on the city’s to-fix list behind education, public transportation, et cetera, et cetera.
Now throw in the fact the Rams’ lease is already very city-unfriendly and would likely only get worse if the city were to buck up the necessary funds to keep the Rams in town.
I know it seems obscure to think the money that might be spent on a stadium could somehow have anything to do with something like Ferguson, but if a new deal is bad for a city economically (which it almost certainly would be), then the ramifications would be widespread.
I’m no economist, but for a city coping with economic struggles, getting hosed by another stadium lease doesn’t seem like the best course of action. And as much as we fans would like to buy into it, the purported positive effects professional sports teams have on their cities have proven to be widely exaggerated.
So essentially it comes down to this: What do you love more, your childhood team or your childhood city?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had nightmares about the Rams leaving for years. (Usually on Sunday nights, for some reason.) But if it’s going to hurt the city whose name is on the jerseys, is it worth it to keep the team in town?
Of course, I would love for the Rams to stay in St. Louis on someone else’s dime — paging Stan Kroenke — but that looks less and less likely with each passing Sunday.
Maybe it’s best to remember the old saying: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because for three years you had one of the most electrifying offenses in league history that brought you a Cinderella-story Super Bowl win complete with last-minute heroics and a shelf-stocking quarterback.”