For the better part of two years, St. Louis has enjoyed
front-runner status in the race for a National Football League
It had the stadium. It had the ownership group. It had the
market size. In short, it was considered a "lock" for a team.
But that no longer is the case after presentations Tuesday and
Wednesday before the league's finance and expansion committees in
Jerry Clinton, chairman and chief executive officer of the St.
Louis NFL Partnership, said league officials have told him as much.
"The NFL has concerns in two areas of our application," Clinton
Concern No. 1:
"They're concerned as to the completion of our Partnership
group, not necessarily who's in it, but just that it's completed,"
Clinton said. "I told them I would get it done."
Concern No. 2:
"They wonder about the electricity in St. Louis," Clinton said.
He wasn't talking about Union Electric Co.
"They point out that we sold out our stadium bonds in 72
hours," Clinton said. "That we had an overflow crowd for our
Both those developments occurred in the summer of 1991.
"But in the last few months, they don't see that," Clinton
said. "They wonder, `Where's the juice?' "
Like expansion groups in four other cities, the St. Louis NFL
Partnership must forward a $20 million letter of credit to the
league by Oct. 11. If St. Louis hasn't sold out its club seats and
luxury boxes in advance of that date, Clinton said, "I don't look
for our chances to be very good."
Unlike competitors in Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville,
Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., St. Louis has failed to sell out the 100
luxury boxes and 6,252 club seats in the domed stadium under
Because of St. Louis' failure to sell out, Clinton said the NFL
"has concerns about ability to support our team if they give us
Although sympathetic about the sluggish start to the St. Louis
campaign because of the flood, Clinton says the league's attitude
now is: "The flood was yesterday."
In summation, Clinton said, "We're out of excuses. We've got 90
percent of a franchise. We're only 10 percent away from getting a
St. Louis has sold about 90 percent of its premium seats. In a
change of policy, the Partnership no longer is willing to disclose
exact sales figures.
Although some of Clinton's comments can be chalked up to
salesmanship, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue dropped some fairly
strong hints in Chicago that the league might be forced to go
elsewhere if St. …