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Thread: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

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    Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Burwell: Is it worth keeping the Rams?

    BY BRYAN BURWELL
    Friday, January 27, 2012

    With only five days to go before the first critical deadline approaches that could secure the Rams' future in St. Louis, a lot of people need to answer a few important questions. Whatever the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission comes up with Wednesday as it outlines plans to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome to a "first tier" venue, isn't it time that someone take an accurate pulse of this region to determine just how badly we want or need an NFL franchise to call our own?

    Isn't that what it comes down to?

    Ask yourself the simple question: What's it worth to the St. Louis region to be one of the only 32 municipalities in America that has an NFL franchise?

    I'm not looking for answers from the irrational windbags who lead with raw knee-jerk emotions, or the snide citizens who look down at pro sports as if they were eying cancerous growths rather than valued civic commodities.

    This is not a time or place for "Occupy Rams Park" manifestos, either. This matter requires some deep thought and intelligent conversation. I make no apologies for where I stand. For all the obvious reasons (and quite a few not so obvious ones), I am and always have been "pro" pro sports business. I want the commission and state and local officials to do whatever they can within reason to prevent Rams owner Stan Kroenke from breaking the lease at the Dome and relocating the franchise to Los Angeles, London, Toronto or Timbuktu.

    I don't know what "within reason" means just yet. But if we can get a true temperature of the region and a consensus of intelligent people agree that there is legitimate value in having an NFL franchise in St. Louis, then the commission negotiators must get creative enough to entice Kroenke to stay put.

    The debates are just getting started, and I understand all the arguments for and against. These are tough economic times for financially strapped municipalities, and here we have a billionaire owner with enough discretionary income to consider spending some of his riches on another pro franchise (LA Dodgers. Asking price? $2 billion). Why can't he spend some of that cash building his own new stadium?

    The simple answer is maybe he will. But that doesn't mean Kroenke won't use every bit of leverage he can to extract the best possible deal out of St. Louis when all is said and done. And that's why this can't be one of those defiant negotiations where the commission walks into the room arrogantly pretending to hold all the trump cards because, plain and simple, the commission has little leverage. Kroenke is the one holding the easily breakable lease. He's the one who has London in the East as a potential relocation option and Los Angeles in the West as another option. He's the one who has skillfully played this thing out by floating rumors that he's contemplating buying the Dodgers ("Ohhh my gosh, he's going to have the Dodgers and Rams in LA!!!"). He's the one who sported the very unpopular poker face in his most recent public appearance.

    "All these things are creating doubt and a little fear," said Patrick Rishe, Webster University sports economist and Forbes magazine columnist. "From a pure business perspective, I'd say this is good business for him to play his cards the way he's playing his cards. I'd say 'job well done.' Someone asked me the other day if he had a moral obligation to St. Louis football fans. I said absolutely not. His moral obligation is to do what is best for the best financial return of the owners. And if I was him, I can't say I wouldn't be doing the same things he's doing."

    Everyone knows that barring construction of a new, publicly financed stadium (which won't happen), there isn't much the commission can do to insure that the Dome is upgraded to the point where it can remain a "top-tier" venue. But that doesn't mean the commission can't be creative and come up with any number of incentives that would keep Kroenke interested in staying here.

    Giving him land to build his own stadium or parking structure might do the trick. Giving him sizable amounts of cash might be just as nice in the interim. Thinking outside of the box is what it's going to take to pull this off, and it would be great if a few outside forces created a little helping hand, too.

    "There's no question that they can't (improve the dome to top tier levels)," Rishe said. "(The negotiations) may ultimately depend on what they have to do, not want to do. It may depend on if another team beats (Kroenke) to Los Angeles. If another (franchise) like Jacksonville, Buffalo, Minnesota, Oakland or San Diego decides to move and beats the Rams to Los Angeles, then that puts (St. Louis) in a better negotiating position.

    "(But) until another team makes that move, Kroenke will be able to push for greater concessions (from the commission)," Rishe said. "His negotiators might be able to squeeze out money from the city in the $30 million to $60 million range in terms of revenues that are currently going to the CVC that could go into the pockets of the Rams as a concession for the fact that we can't get into that top tier. At least that money is cheaper than the $200 million to $300 million in public money that would be required to (renovate the Dome) to even approach that first-tier status."

    So that brings us back to the start of this conversation. What's it worth to St. Louis to have an NFL franchise to call its own?

    Rishe says there are no clear-cut studies that prove or disprove the value of a city having an NFL franchise within its borders. The research is all over the place and is subjective stuff. But too many academics and civic snobs pretend that this question doesn't go beyond economics.

    Being a pro sports town has "a psychological effect on a community's psyche," Rishe said. "'We are now a big-time city because we have a pro sports franchise.' Oklahoma City is a great example. More people look at that city as a place to go check out because it is more visible and talked about because it has an NBA franchise, and more to the point a winning NBA franchise. With the Rams and football here in our city, we've already taken one blow to the gut when the Bidwills moved the (Cardinals) franchise in the '80s. So the real concern is what sort of image or stigma might be associated with the city psychologically to outsiders if we lose a second NFL franchise?"


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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Burwell:

    Why can't he spend some of that cash building his own new stadium?

    The simple answer is maybe he will. But that doesn't mean Kroenke won't use every bit of leverage he can to extract the best possible deal out of St. Louis when all is said and done.

    "(But) until another team makes that move, Kroenke will be able to push for greater concessions (from the commission)," Rishe said. "His negotiators might be able to squeeze out money from the city in the $30 million to $60 million range in terms of revenues that are currently going to the CVC that could go into the pockets of the Rams as a concession for the fact that we can't get into that top tier. At least that money is cheaper than the $200 million to $300 million in public money that would be required to (renovate the Dome) to even approach that first-tier status."
    ahh the olde bargaining chip. LA is nothing more than a way to save Kroenke some cash. business men at their best. now let him use his smart negotiating power to get us a championship roster.
    LA RAMMER

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    When you think about it, it is extremely unsavory for billionaires to ask for public money to finance a stadium when they have the means to finance much of it (if not all of it) themselves. Thoroughly ridiculous.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    ...This is not a time or place for "Occupy Rams Park" manifestos, either. This matter requires some deep thought and intelligent conversation.
    I live near Minneapolis. I can tell you now, intelligent conversation is not what you're going to get.

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    When you think about it, it is extremely unsavory for billionaires to ask for public money to finance a stadium when they have the means to finance much of it (if not all of it) themselves. Thoroughly ridiculous.
    It is unsavory. Unless you're the billionaire. It's much easier for an owner like Jerry Jones to build his own stadium, because he knows that he'll sell tickets. Mr. Kroenke isn't going to spend a billion dollars to build a stadium he knows is likely to go 1/2 full for home games. Not to mention the cost of managing the building the rest of the year. As unsavory as it might seem, this is sound business decision-making.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    md8
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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    I get annoyed when these billionaire sports owners ask tax payers to build new stadiums. They are the ones making money off it.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    I don't think these dudes have a billion dollars just sitting somewhere. This isn't a Scrooge McDuck situation where Kroenke is diving into piles of cash and swimming around is it? (I mean he could be, who knows what those guys do?) I imagine the money is tied up somewhere and they'd lose some trying to free it up for a stadium. Key part of becoming a billionaire is learning how to hold onto your money.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by md8 View Post
    I get annoyed when these billionaire sports owners ask tax payers to build new stadiums. They are the ones making money off it.
    You don't get to be a billionaire by spending money when you don't have too...
    Truth and THOLTFAN81 like this.
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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by Truth View Post
    I live near Minneapolis. I can tell you now, intelligent conversation is not what you're going to get.



    It is unsavory. Unless you're the billionaire. It's much easier for an owner like Jerry Jones to build his own stadium, because he knows that he'll sell tickets. Mr. Kroenke isn't going to spend a billion dollars to build a stadium he knows is likely to go 1/2 full for home games. Not to mention the cost of managing the building the rest of the year. As unsavory as it might seem, this is sound business decision-making.
    I would hope the mind set would be that the Rams will sell out home games because we'll see a vastly improved product on the field. Based on recent history, we of course know that's a big leap of faith, but isn't that why Stan has invested a lot of money in Fisher, Bradford and many others when it's all said and done?

    "Sound Business" and "The Right Thing to do" aren't mutually exclusive. It's the reason people are down on Wall Street, the rich and big business in general. Most average joes don't begrudge someone the right to make a lot of money, but if you have to step on people and throw away your moral compass in the process it's distasteful. If every community in America stood up and said "we're not going to be extorted just to have a pro sports team in our town", the rules of the game would change.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Why is it 20 years lather the fans in St. Louis want the owner to pay for the stadium. When the city threw millions at the Rams owner to get her to move form LA 20 years ago now they are signing a different toon asking for the owner to pay for it. Do the fans in St.Louis think the Rams would have left LA if the deal was come build us a new stadium on your dime? The original deal included a top rated stadium whats changed? I don;t mind the Rams being in St.Louis as long as they continue to support the team and that includes a stadium where the fans will want to go and have a rockin time supporting the Rams!

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Why is it 20 years lather the fans in St. Louis want the owner to pay for the stadium. When the city threw millions at the Rams owner to get her to move form LA 20 years ago now they are signing a different toon asking for the owner to pay for it. Do the fans in St.Louis think the Rams would have left LA if the deal was come build us a new stadium on your dime? The original deal included a top rated stadium whats changed? I don;t mind the Rams being in St.Louis as long as they continue to support the team and that includes a stadium where the fans will want to go and have a rockin time supporting the Rams!

    The answer I think lies in the obvious comparison between the baseball Cardinals and the football Rams. St Louis sees the Cardinals as 'theirs' and so offers a level of support win or lose that I have seen described as the best support in MLB. St Louis doesn't seem to see the Rams as 'theirs' and so seems to identify rather less with them, offering up paltry attendances when anything less then the greatest show on turf is offered. Part of this is the Rams' fault of course, they've moved three times to my knowledge and that doesn't breed loyalty.

    But it cuts both ways; the best way I can see for a franchise to stay is if the city offers unconditional support. My support always has been unconditional for the Rams and wherever they go, I'll still be a fan and that's independent of any win number. If St louis can't offer a '12th man' outside of a 12-4 season and a good post-season run then maybe it isn't where the Rams should be.

    LA didn't have a great track record as far as Anaheim went either, so allow me, somewhat mischeviously, to recommend London; world class city with Victorian infrastructure but multliple world-class sporting venues and the ability to get big things built in next to no time ( Olympics anyone? ).

    Plus its easier for me to get to and my wife knows someone who knows someone who walked past Mr Kroenke once and so there's an outside chance I get 10% discount at the hotdog concession.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Pang View Post
    The answer I think lies in the obvious comparison between the baseball Cardinals and the football Rams. St Louis sees the Cardinals as 'theirs' and so offers a level of support win or lose that I have seen described as the best support in MLB. St Louis doesn't seem to see the Rams as 'theirs' and so seems to identify rather less with them, offering up paltry attendances when anything less then the greatest show on turf is offered. Part of this is the Rams' fault of course, they've moved three times to my knowledge and that doesn't breed loyalty.

    But it cuts both ways; the best way I can see for a franchise to stay is if the city offers unconditional support. My support always has been unconditional for the Rams and wherever they go, I'll still be a fan and that's independent of any win number. If St louis can't offer a '12th man' outside of a 12-4 season and a good post-season run then maybe it isn't where the Rams should be.

    LA didn't have a great track record as far as Anaheim went either, so allow me, somewhat mischeviously, to recommend London; world class city with Victorian infrastructure but multliple world-class sporting venues and the ability to get big things built in next to no time ( Olympics anyone? ).

    Plus its easier for me to get to and my wife knows someone who knows someone who walked past Mr Kroenke once and so there's an outside chance I get 10% discount at the hotdog concession.
    London Rams, I honestly can't think of anything worse. Your killing me here. I HATE the idea.
    Last edited by GROUND DOG 39; -01-28-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    London Rams, I honestly can't think of anything worse. Your killing me here. I HATE the idea.


    Me too but I'd even go for the Sunderland Rams if it meant that I'd see homefield advantage at the Stadium of fright.

    If St Louis has any sense they'll keep the Rams but its amazing how these franchise re-locations play out.

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    As it has already been pointed out, when the Rams moved to St. Louis in the 90's, the city was so desperate to get them that they built a brand new stadium and agreed to a caluse that gave the team a right to break a lease after 10 and 20 years(2005, 2015) if the Dome was not in the top tier of NFL stadiums. They had to know what they were getting into and have subsequently not worked with the team on most occasions to continually improve the facility to keep it in the top tier.

    Don't you think that if the commission had always been upgrading the place that this would be much less of an issue? If they made it a point to literally 'keep up with the Jonses,' would this be coming up, or would the Rams be assumed to be staying? Now, because they have mostly sat on their hands except when absolutely necessary, the Dome is in no condition to even be renovated to becoming a first tier stadium and we're at a crossroads.

    Also, as I mentioned above, the Rams are in St. Louis on a lease. As in, for all of the events that happen at the dome that are not Rams related, every penny for use of the Dome goes to the city, because they own it. Maybe they should have tried a bit harder to get some NCAA tournament events or had more conventions or other sporting events. Jerry Jones put on a big time heavyweight fight in Jerryworld. Yes, the Rams get a pretty penny for each event that they put on there, but all theya re is a tenant. Think of them in terms of the Dome as nothing more than a rock concert or a play or a convention. They take income from each event, as would Bon Jovi, Wicked, or Comic-con, but so does the city, and the Rams get no benefit for the uses of the Dome on weekends that they are not playing there or in the offseason.

    Now, if Georgia had built the Dome herself, she would have been responsible for its upkeep and all of that, but she would be getting all of the revenue for holding side events there. Look up in the original article. It suggests that the CVC might be able to negotiate a settlement of cash to Stan in terms of the money that it takes in, $30 to $60 million. It would in essense be transferring an ownership share of the Dome to Kroenke in return for his overlooking the first tier clause.

    As for the whole London, all home games need to be played here thing, as Av said in the other thread, all it is is a play by the CVC to try to exert what little power they have in the upcoming negotiations. The Rams agreed to play all 8 games at the Dome. The CVC agreed that the Dome would be first tier. It's not, and the Rams aren't going to play all their games there. Both sides have gone against the lease contract and we'll see how it works out.
    I believe!

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    if the rams start winning, they can build seven stadium and ask for taxpayers to pay for all of them. winning cures all in the nfl

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    Re: Burwell: Is It Worth Keeping Rams?

    You know...everyone seems to think St.Louis has the money to just build a new quad-trillion dollar stadium. News flash...15 years ago when the city threw money at the team, the city had a lot of money. Right now...St.Louis is broke.

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