Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

There's Still Time for Rams to Use Al Davis' Method

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

There's Still Time for Rams to Use Al Davis' Method

Article excerpt

It seems as if I learn something new every day. For instance, I never realized that the National Football League was responsible for the new domed stadium in downtown St. Louis.

I vaguely recall a plan that called for the stadium funding to be shared by the city, county and state. I thought the taxpayers were picking up the cost of the facility, which comes equipped with the sweetest lease in professional sports.

I thought that lease - which basically assures a yearly profit of about $20 million for a team - attracted the Rams to St. Louis. No NFL franchise wanted Busch Stadium as a full-time home. No stadium, no NFL. So St. Louis gambled, began building, and lured the Rams.

At least that's how I remember the scenario.

Apparently, I was mistaken.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue cleared that up on Friday in Chicago when the league's owners voted to allow Los Angeles Raiders to move to Oakland.

The NFL declined to charge Raiders owner Al Davis a relocation fee. That's a shift in policy. The Cardinals paid the NFL to move to Phoenix. The St. Louis-bound Rams agreed to pay the NFL $29 million (plus a cut of the seat-license money).

But Al Davis, being Al Davis, doesn't have to pay a moving fee. So what's the difference between the Rams and the Raiders? Tagliabue explained that the Raiders met league requiremens for relocation and the Rams did not. Interesting. The Raiders - not the Rams - were offered a new stadium and chose to leave L.A. anyway.

Tagliabue said Oakland wasn't a viable NFL city, but St. Louis was a ripe NFL market and the Rams snatched it away. Interesting, because the NFL had just skipped St. Louis for an expansion team. No matter. The way the NFL sees it, the greedy Rams raced in and beat other, unnamed teams to St. Louis.

Tagliabue has a point. The NFL allowed the Cardinals to move to Phoenix. In response, we built a new stadium. Then the NFL placed expansion teams in the Carolinas and Jacksonville. That opened the stadium for the Rams. So we can see the logic in Tagliabue's thinking. …

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