Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vociferous Rams Rooters Deserve Their Well-Earned Days in the Sun

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vociferous Rams Rooters Deserve Their Well-Earned Days in the Sun

Article excerpt

Local sports fans finally have what they deserve: pro football.

Not the goofy three-down, touch-passing, field-the-size-of-Rhode-Island version from Canada, but the actual National Football League. The one with Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice.

Congratulations! You earned your NFL berth by energetically supporting our sports franchises and throwing millions into the PSL campaign. Sure, that money created a giant slush fund that greased some already slimy palms. But you shrugged and cheerfully paid the ransom. Sports is fun and football would be a blast.

In a few short years, this zealous attitude turned a sports ghost town into a boom town.

Back when the Cardinals played competent baseball, they became the first team to draw 3 million fans in a mid-sized market. Once the Blues began wheeling in marquee players, they began filling The Arena beyond capacity. Such fervor got Kiel Center and the football stadium projects going, changing our sports landscape for good.

St. Louis University draws 17,000 a game for college basketball. The PGA Championship set attendance marks here. The LGPA and Nike Tour came and had instant success. The Olympic Festival attracted record crowds.

"St. Louis is a pretty loyal community," said Joan Meyer, who took her fierce puppy Cody to watch the Rams practice Wednesday. "They hated to see the Cardinals leave. They are very happy with the replacement. It's great to have a team."

How much do St. Louisans love sports? Overeager investors have stuffed arena football, roller hockey, TeamTennis, soccer and women's basketball onto the summer sports schedule. (If a donkey gymnastics league ever gets rolling, we're sure to get a team.)

This whole Rams thing doesn't really sink in until you see training camp for yourself. After years battling disappointment and cursing the sweaty brow of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, St. Louisans can get within an arm's length of authentic NFL players.

Preseason football camps don't usually spark a festival atmosphere. Unless you cheer for groin pulls (owing to a tug-of-war tragedy in your childhood), there isn't a whole lot to see. But St. Louisans are coming by the thousands to Parkway Central High School. …

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