Saturday, January 16, 2016

#LA, #STL, Stan Kroenke, and the #Rams --- What I'll Miss and Won't Miss from the NFL

I'd like to congratulate the Los Angeles area for getting pro football back.

As an original St. Louis Rams PSL purchaser and season ticket holder my disappointment is heartfelt. St. Louis has gotten a bad rap mainly due to a decaying inner city of 300,000 residents. The metropolitan area is home to nearly 3.3 million people and is a wonderful place to live. However 3.3M is a far cry from the megalopolis of Los Angeles which would dwarf STL six times over.

An angel is coming to "The City of Angels" in the form of Stan Kroenke. He desired a bigger stage, larger market, and the glitz that goes along with it. Los Angeles football fans will get the best that money can buy from Kroenke, who is a multi-billionaire as well as a national real estate developer. My hope was that Kroenke would keep his resources in the STL area, but we all knew that realistically that was a dream. The STL area couldn't compete with the numbers out of SoCal. If a move was what Kroenke wanted then I don't blame him for taking advantage of the tremendous opportunity that was waiting for him. The design and proposed plan looks beautiful!

There won't be any pin cushions or voodoo dolls putting a hex on the LA Rams from me. Stan is a nice guy, smart, likable, a good family man, and very shrewd. If there is a buck to be made he welcomes the chance. From a selfish standpoint I wish that we could have kept him. For those that don't know, he grew up in mid-Missouri and married his childhood sweetheart who just happened to be the daughter of Sam Walton.

Stan was on the Board of Directors at WalMart and took advantage of the enormous business expansion that the company rolled out. He parlayed the inheritance into WalMart Super Centers from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean. After initial success the cookie cutter blueprint rolled across the country. His portfolio includes stock holdings, apartment complexes, ranches, sports franchises, media investments, shopping centers, and Lord only knows what else. His main interest however is real estate developing, challenging projects, and making money. Lots and lots of it.

How can you begrudge a guy that has lived the American dream?

St. Louis lost on the relocation deal and Los Angeles got their Rams back. Thanks for letting us lease them for 21 years. Now the residents of Los Angeles will get the best of the best. The stadium and development will be second to none. The training facility and home office will be state of the art. Surrounding property will be first class.

Anyone who can pay $550 Million to relocate and another $2.1 Billion to develop real property deserves to do want they want. So the NFL showpiece now becomes LA. Of course that will come with a price to the fans. I'm sure that Stan made close to $1B on paper the minute he announced the move back to LA. So the relocation fee turned out to be a good investment already. He'll look to recover the development costs with high lease rates, expensive stadium boxes and seats, outrageous concession prices, and ridiculously priced team gear. Get out the credit cards! LA, I hope you support Stan well.

All of this brings me to what I'll miss and not miss from the NFL.

It's disheartening to know that STL will not be recognized as an NFL city. Now we will blend in with many medium-sized cities that are not worthy of being a plantation site. I'll  miss the anticipation of the draft. With 4 winning seasons in 21 years the Rams usually were in a position to draft capable talent. I'll miss the anticipation of the season as well as training camp. I'll  miss rooting for a "home" team. I'll miss some of the friends that I made within the organization.

There are a number of things from the NFL that I will not miss however. The fan experience on game day has become a drag. The role of television has played a major part there. To me it's actually more fun to watch the product on TV. I will not miss the lines at the gate and having to be frisked. It was always a concern that some nut might want to make a political statement and take a few hundred football fans for an eternal journey some Sunday. I will not miss not being able to get a cell phone signal for a fantasy football update. I will not miss the elbow to rectum seating --- and by the way, contrary to reports, the Edward Jones Dome is a very adequate venue for watching a game. The sports bar with replays and the red zone appeases me, but I'm low maintenance. I will not miss the exorbitant parking prices. Nor will I miss the ridiculous merchandise charges. I will not miss the wallet reach when concession time comes.

In the generation that the Rams were in STL the NFL has changed a lot. I will not miss the disruptions in the flow of the game. The penalty flags, coaching challenges, and instant replays have ruined the game day experience for me. I will not miss the phantom referee calls for holding, pass interference, and flagrant hits to the head which seem to come when the officials feel the need to influence the outcome of a game. I will not miss the drug suspensions and personal conduct issues that seem to plague the sport on a weekly basis. You can rest assured that I will not miss the hypocritical double speak from the NFL front office regarding committees, policies, and task forces. The league will do whatever it wants to do and hide behind those entities whenever it feels the necessity to support the position that it is going to take. The whores for $$$s reside in the league, but what the heck, it's the American way and they are at the top and riding the wave.

So enjoy the ride LA. The Rams are yours forever now. They will come with a price. I'm sure that Kroenke lost a lot of fans in the STL area but he made 31 close knit friends happy when he lined the pockets of the other owners with the relocation fee --- and that's not to mention the 25-30 million new friends he gained in the Southern California region. He's an expert in dealing with dollars, opportunities, and challenges.

For me, I'll be content with my fantasy football league and the red zone action on an HD TV --- and try to squeeze in an extra round or two of golf on Sundays. 

James Ross has penned six novels from the fictitious Prairie Winds Golf Course setting high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis. The realistic, character-based fiction novels cross several genres. For more information visit

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