Why Rolla May Likely Be The Choice If Rams Move Camp in '11 Article (No Link)
With the NFL lockout still looming large and hanging over the heads of the NFL, NFLPA, and the legions of devoted and passionate fans, many teams may forgo making major offseason changes this year, such as shifting training camp sites, even if the head coach desperately desires to do so.
That could well be the case for the St. Louis Rams which have trained the last two years at Rams Park in Earth City, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.
As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this year, head coach Steve Spagnuolo stated a desire to move training camp away from St. Louis, saying:
“I think it’s a great team bonding thing. I’m a traditionalist that way. There’s something about going away to camp.”
Two schools are competing for the privilege and all the accompanying benefits derived from hosting the Rams training camp, and both are 100 miles from St. Louis.
One is Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, Illinois, a Division-I institution southeast of St. Louis. The second is Missouri University of Science and Technology, better known as Missouri S & T, a Division-II campus located southwest of St. Louis along Interstate 44 in Rolla.
Both campuses are in towns of very similar size (about 20,000) and would likely provide players with similar recreational opportunities when (and if) given the chance and privilege of getting away from camp for an evening on the town.
However, looking deeper, there are two major reasons (and a smaller one) that some believe Missouri S & T may be the favorite to land the Rams.
First and foremost, Missouri S & T may have the upper hand because Rams owner Stan Kroenke is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Columbia, the school system’s central and focal campus, of which Missouri S & T is a direct branch.
Kroenke’s son played basketball at Mizzou and Stan is said to be a big supporter of the university, and, particularly, its athletic program. Understanding Kroenke’s intricate link to the University of Missouri, one would find it reasonable that Missouri S & T could be the personal favorite of the Rams’ renowned owner.
The second point deals with the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, Sam Bradford, and his obsessive Oklahoma followers.
Hundreds of fans made the trek up I-44 last summer to Rams Park to witness Bradford and his first NFL training camp. To illustrate the point of Oklahoma’s devotion to Bradford, the Rams preseason games were picked up and aired over parts of Oklahoma, as were select regular-season contests.
If training camp were 100 miles closer to the rabid fans of the Sooner state, the more likely many more fans from Oklahoma would be willing to make the road trip to camp to watch the young franchise quarterback lead the Rams in Year 2 of his promising career.
Finally, a ‘Rolla’ camp would put Rams camp just over 100 miles from Springfield, the third largest city in Missouri, with a metro population surpassing 430,000, according to the latest census. It is the fastest growing metro area in the state.
The Springfield area is home to many great Rams fans and a Rolla site would provide a relatively short drive to watch and assess training camp. This site would also provide the likelihood of adding many new fans from the quick-growing region while providing the Rams with greater visibility there and intensified media coverage out of Springfield throughout training camp due its’ proximity to that city.
With all that said, time is an enemy to both Carbondale and Rolla and their respective university’s quests to land the Rams in 2011, not to mention Coach Spagnuolo’s desire to train away from home.
According to a report from stltoday.com on June 10, a Rams spokesman admitted that the longer the lockout is in place, the greater the chances that Rams camp will return to Earth City and Rams Park even if the head coach, the Rams, or those obsessive Oklahoma fans prefer otherwise.
Training camp would still likely begin in late July, as usual, if the lockout is lifted by mid-July. Recent reports from multiple sources indicate that being a legitimate possibility.
Re: Why Rolla May Likely Be The Choice If Rams Move Camp in '11 Article (No Link)
Not to mention that the Smaller Big Bill is in the area, and he could better attand camp sessions. :)