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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    05/25/2008

    We all know where this is going. We all know where this eventually will lead. Everything about the future of the St. Louis Rams, both short term and long term, leads us directly to the Edward Jones Dome.

    This is the crossroads where everything intersects hopes and fears, dreams and wishes, victories and failures, political and social choices, the disturbing past, the unsettling present and the tenuous future. All the answers are inside those walls of the big brick playground on Broadway.

    Contractually, the Rams are eventually going to need a new stadium or at a bare minimum a wildly upgraded current one if St. Louis hopes to keep Rams ownership from at least a predictable serious flirtation with another city. How well this city deals with the stadium issue will provide us with the answer to whether yet another NFL franchise will be bolting the Mississippi riverfront and heading off to another city. That's a fact, not a debate. It's something everyone knows, but no one really wants to talk about because quite frankly, we're all afraid of the potential answers.

    Between now and 2014, the dome will be so far behind the rest of pro football's other state-of-the-art stadiums that there's no way the city's convention authority will be able to meet the terms of the lease agreement that the Edward Jones Dome be among the top eight NFL facilities by 2015.

    People in St. Louis probably don't like that idea even a little bit, because they know at the end of that conversation, there will be a big fat tax bill with their names on it. But that was part of the deal when St. Louis lured the Rams away from Los Angeles. The city and that means all of us made a promise that it's being asked not so subtly to keep.

    So it's time for a home improvement loan or a brand-new house. Either choice is going to hurt. Either way, there's a monstrous price tag. You know what the going rate for new stadiums is, and the cost for sprucing up a charming little fixer-upper like the Dome isn't any easier to cope with, either. It's going to hurt, and one way or the other, the price is going to be steep. Keep the Rams and shell out more money, or lose them and never expect another NFL team to enter the city's borders again.

    That vote is going to come sooner or later, and I'm not telling anyone what they should do with their tax dollars at this point, particularly in a struggling economy when it takes $50 to fill up a Yugo.

    But I do know this. If the Rams ownership really is committed to staying here, and they are truly intent on holding the city to the terms of the lease (trust me folks, they are), then it's incumbent on them to give the fan base a product worth supporting. Dallas Cowboys boss Jerry Jones understood that before he got up the gumption to build his gargantuan $900 million palace in suburban Arlington but needed the vote of the people to get the deal done.

    He knew the Cowboys couldn't be a crappy product in the same year that the proposition to gain state tax dollars to help fund the project was on the voters' ballots. So he brought in Bill Parcells to coach the team and create a quick fix on a sluggish franchise. It worked. Parcells turned the team around, the citizenry gave Jones his funds and the most fabulous football palace in the history of the world is growing in the shadows of the Texas Rangers' ballpark.

    The Rams need to do the same thing. No, not bring in Parcells. They need to get good in a hurry and stay good for a long time. They need to provide an entertaining and successful product on the field to make that inevitable big tax bill for stadium improvements more palatable to digest for a citizenry that historically hates large tax bills. So that uncomfortable feeling you're getting about the Rams' future is totally justified. Oh yes, all roads do lead to the Dome, and sooner or later, we're all going to have to deal with this. Yet your suspicions that something clandestine is afoot may not be as easy to justify, but are simple to understand.

    All the words coming out of new owner Chip Rosenbloom's mouth are attempting to soothe your fears, and he's not feeding you any lies. When he has said he's not shopping the team, that's the truth. But you should know exactly what that means. It's the same as me saying my house is not for sale, and then someone knocks on my door with a million-dollar check.

    Here are the keys, thank you very much, and I'll send somebody for the furniture. Everything is for sale, you just have to find the right asking price.

    So this is where all roads lead. We're about to find out just how much the Rams mean to St. Louis, and how much St. Louis means to the Rams.


  2. #2
    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    While I respect Mr. Burwell's opinion (not a new opinion. At least one sports writer from every city facing stadium issues spews forth this same line.), I don't necessarily agree. If the city of St Louis wants an NFL franchise, they're going to have to pay for the priviledge. If fans in St louis are only willing to pay IF the team is a perennial winner, say Buh-Bye to the NFL in your town. Maybe the convention authority should have done a better job of negotiating. Promising to provide a top 8 facility is going to cost money.

    Do I feel for the Rams fans of St Louis? Of course I do. It sucks having this gun held to your head again. Is the timing great? No, the economy isn't great, gas prices are high, and going to go higher, the price of just getting by has gone up tremendously. The decision is, are we willing to spend more (tax increase) to keep the NFL in our town? Are we willing to pay more for tickets in our new or improved stadium? If we spend this money, how can we be sure the Rams won't leave after this contract expires. Do we care enough about our team to support them even when they aren't one of the top teams?

    Is winning a panacea? No. Just ask the Vikings. They've been trying to get a stadium deal done for years. They couldn't even get it done when they were winning. The fans in Minnesota are rabid NFL fans. They love their team, and yet, no deal.

    So what it all boils down to is this. Are the owners and fans committed to keeping an NFL franchise in their town. If so, it will happen. But both have to be committed. Do you honestly think Jerry Jones or the fans in Dallas were going to even consider moving the team? Not a chance. It's all about committment.

    Do I think the Rams will get their new stadium? You bet. It just might not be in the shadow of the Arch. I do believe the new owners when they say they're committed to St Louis. But, is St Louis committed to the Rams? I guess only time will tell.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

  3. #3
    Chris58's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    I know this won't change the situation but here's my own two cents on the subject: I have always disliked holding the citizenry of a city responsible for keeping a pro franchise in that city. These teams are private enterprises doing business in a captialistic economy. And yet, when it comes down to improvements or a new stadium, the first thing the owners do is hold a gun to the city's head and say pay up or we move. That's garbage. That turns the solution into a socialistic one, which would be fine except that the average fan gets no financial payback (profit sharing anyone?) Many argue that the city does profit because of the hotel and restaurant tax revenues that flow to its coffers. That may be, but the average Joe just gets hosed due to higher taxes he pays associated with the stadium improvements and the increase in ticket prices, parking fees and concessions.

    I feel it was a bad day the first time a city (and its people) decided to tax itself to keep a pro team in its confines. In my opinion, the teams should pay their own way. If that means that the players' salaries have to come back from Monopoly money-land and owners don't own highly over-priced teams, so be it. If every city stuck to their guns on this reality would sink back into pro sports.

    Yawn, I just woke up from a beautiful dream! Damn.

  4. #4
    RAMFANRAIDERHATER's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris58 View Post
    I know this won't change the situation but here's my own two cents on the subject: I have always disliked holding the citizenry of a city responsible for keeping a pro franchise in that city. These teams are private enterprises doing business in a captialistic economy. And yet, when it comes down to improvements or a new stadium, the first thing the owners do is hold a gun to the city's head and say pay up or we move. That's garbage. That turns the solution into a socialistic one, which would be fine except that the average fan gets no financial payback (profit sharing anyone?) Many argue that the city does profit because of the hotel and restaurant tax revenues that flow to its coffers. That may be, but the average Joe just gets hosed due to higher taxes he pays associated with the stadium improvements and the increase in ticket prices, parking fees and concessions.

    I feel it was a bad day the first time a city (and its people) decided to tax itself to keep a pro team in its confines. In my opinion, the teams should pay their own way. If that means that the players' salaries have to come back from Monopoly money-land and owners don't own highly over-priced teams, so be it. If every city stuck to their guns on this reality would sink back into pro sports.

    Yawn, I just woke up from a beautiful dream! Damn.

    Couldn't agree more, good post. I also think it's garbage that any city, for ANY team, should ask the citizens of that city to pay extra taxes to keep/get a team. If I were told tomorrow that the Rams would come back to California if only I voted in the tax money, I'd not say no, I'd say "hell no".
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Put it on the ballot and make it a public vote as to whether to spend tax money to keep the rams. I bet it loses and loses big. Even if we win nothing between now and 2014, a sb title and an sb finish in less than 20 years isnt so bad if you compare it to the success of all other franchises. I am not saying its the best performance, but its far, far from the worst.

    In fairness to the rams, they are entitled to the benefit of the bargain that they cut with the city when they moved to town.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  6. #6
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    I have a hard time believing the taxpayers are going to go along with this. It's a shame all around, but this is the price the CVC paid to get the Rams into town. I truly believe the Rams are as good as gone from St. Louis within the next decade...

  7. #7
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Condsidering the history of St. Louis and the success of the baseball Cardinals, it might just be time to give up the idea of a dome. The Cards have a new stadium (which I was against, as I loved the old Busch stadium), and maybe, just maybe, it might be time for Chip to approach the August Busch family. It might just be possible for a deal to be worked out where the Cards and Rams would be able to play in a sports complex similar to the one in KC, where the Chiefs and Royals play in side-by-side stadiums. Seriously, the Royals used to be a great team, but for more than a decade, they've sucked, yet I have never heard a whimper about moving them out of KC.

    Even though I used to live up in the St. Louis area (across the river in a place called Brooklyn, IL - and you DON'T want to go there...), I still want to look at Google Earth to see if building a football stadium next to Busch stadium is possible. Now, I ain't not no genius, but I do have well over 4 years of post-high school education, and I think that bringing the Busch family on board would ensure the future of the Rams franchise in the St. Louis area for many years to come.

  8. #8
    GreatestShow99's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Is August III still in charge of AB ? If so, I fail to see him owning another sports franchise and with good reason. He almost ran the Cardinals into the ground...

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    And, it isn't feasible for a new stadium to be built next to Busch III. Not enough room on that side of town.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatestShow99 View Post
    And, it isn't feasible for a new stadium to be built next to Busch III. Not enough room on that side of town.
    Good point here. There is no place to build a stadium downtown for the Rams. The only hope the great people of St. Louis don't build a stadium but give the dollars to make the ED feasible. You can't put the stadium in West County, not enough hotels. You can't move it South, not enough transportation avenues. You can't go East, the city won't allow it. There's nothing in North County that would help the situation. The only viable option is to renovate the ED.

  11. #11
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Good point here. There is no place to build a stadium downtown for the Rams. The only hope the great people of St. Louis don't build a stadium but give the dollars to make the ED feasible. You can't put the stadium in West County, not enough hotels. You can't move it South, not enough transportation avenues. You can't go East, the city won't allow it. There's nothing in North County that would help the situation. The only viable option is to renovate the ED.
    I've got it!

    Combine the franchise with the two St. Louis trademarks........the arch and riverboat gambling!

    Build a floating stadium on the river next to the Arch park!
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  12. #12
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris
    In my opinion, the teams should pay their own way. If that means that the players' salaries have to come back from Monopoly money-land and owners don't own highly over-priced teams, so be it.
    I hear you're frustrations, Chris; but which is more likely.....decreased salaries, or increased ticket prices?
    If every city stuck to their guns on this reality would sink back into pro sports.
    But isn't that the same collusion that owners are so often accused of?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  13. #13
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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    I suppose you could potentially fit a new stadium next to Bush 3 if you put it where that big hole in the ground currently resides.

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    Re: Rams must win before asking fans to foot stadium bill

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post


    The Rams need to do the same thing. No, not bring in Parcells.
    I think we should bring in Parcells...

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