Magazine article The Progressive

Killing the Spirit of St. Louis

Magazine article The Progressive

Killing the Spirit of St. Louis

Article excerpt

They comprise the most infamous club in the history of sports: Walter O'Malley, Robert Irsay, Clay Bennett. These are all sports owners who ripped teams away from cities that showered them with love and tax dollars, and moved them to another city for a sweeter deal.

They are corporate raiders as well as shameless welfare kings, and their only true legacy is in Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Seattle, where their names are cursed to this day. While other owners have also moved teams, they are arguably the most unprincipled and infamous.

To their ranks, we must add the name of Stan Kroenke. The billionaire real-estate mogul has just announced the moving of the Rams from St. Louis, where they have resided since 1994, back to Los Angeles, where they failed dramatically to find an audience. What makes Kroenke worse than the typical owner who moves his team? So very much.

Let's start with Kroenke's very name, because here you have the first insult. His birth certificate reads Enos Stanley Kroenke. He was named after Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial, the Cardinals stars who are arguably the two most iconic people in the history of St. Louis. It's as though the person who stole the Sonics out of Seattle had been named Kurt Cobain Bennett.

Then there are the insults to the intelligence of anyone with even a high school understanding of the NFL's business model. Kroenke said that if the Rams remained in St. Louis, they would be "on the road to financial ruin." There is no--repeat no--NFL team that is on the road to (or even resides in the same town as) financial ruin.

The reason the league is able to have teams in New York and Green Bay compete on the same economic playing field is that the franchises--with the exception of the Dallas Cowboys--split their television money and merchandise sales equally. The league is the most successful financial entity in the history of sports in no small part because of the way it divides revenue among the clubs. …

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