Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Good Tacos or Good Teams Will Sell Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Good Tacos or Good Teams Will Sell Here

Article excerpt

So the National Football League is smitten by growth markets.

Isn't that special? And there is little doubt that Jacksonville is on the way up. Perhaps by the year 2000 it will be a major-league sports city.

Like St. Louis is today.

I once had doubts about this place. I arrived in 1986 when the football Cardinals were ready to move and the Blues clung to Harry Ornest. I wasn't sure about the fans, but I WAS sure about the inert rich guys around here - they had no appreciation for what sports meant to a community.

Since then, I've seen the city respond. Civic leaders pulled together to save the Blues, then built them a new palace. Civic leaders pulled together (for a while, anyway) to get a new football stadium built and get St. Louis in the expansion race.

Civic leaders rallied around St. Louis University and helped push the Billikens toward the fast lane in NCAA Division I basketball.

I've come to realize you will cheerfully support competently run franchises. The Blues may have had a cult following in 1986, but now the franchise enjoys broad support.

The Blues must draw 17,000 fans a game at steep ticket prices to survive . . . and that's what they get. You respect the franchise and enjoy the product at a high cost.

The Bills will be moving to Kiel Center next year with the Blues - and if coach Charlie Spoonhour continues making progress, college basketball will really sell.

Strangers tell us St. Louis is a baseball town, and there is some truth in that. The Cardinals make just a half-hearted effort to win, yet ball-loving fans flock to Busch Stadium nonetheless.

Their fan base has eroded since the later 1980s - because your confidence in the franchise has waned - but attendance never will plummet like it did in sunny Atlanta for the old Braves and the current Hawks.

But this is not just a baseball town. It has become a good sports town that can support a football team to the max. And someday it will, as long as the club is not a clown show.

You are good fans, but you're not lemmings. You think before you follow.

In places like Jacksonville, folks will go ga-ga for football, at least at first, because there are no other real sports there. …

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