Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shameful That London Trip Is during Re-Birth; but Remember Fans, Short-Term Pain Could Lead to Long-Term Pleasure

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shameful That London Trip Is during Re-Birth; but Remember Fans, Short-Term Pain Could Lead to Long-Term Pleasure

Article excerpt

One of the saddest sights in sports is a stadium closed for business. In St. Louis this week, we're dealing with a staggering triple-header of athletic emptiness. On the same gloomy day the baseball Cardinals were inside their Busch Stadium clubhouse stuffing their belongings in boxes and bags and heading off into the long off-season, the big banners touting the Blues' young and promising team draped off the roof of the Scottrade Center, but the locked-out hockey season was still very much in limbo.

Down the street at the other prominent downtown pro sports facility, the Edward Jones Dome will also be closed for football business this Sunday. But unlike Busch and Scottrade, the Dome has been temporarily shuttered purely by choice.

The Rams are in England this weekend, playing the New England Patriots in a "home game" in a famous soccer stadium in London.

A lot of people want to try and frame this little junket to British Isles as the crime of the century against the city.

The reality is, it's far more of a shame than a crime.

The National Football League loves playing football games in London. It makes perfect business sense to expand the NFL's brand overseas. It's just rotten timing that this is the season that the Rams became the league's prominent marketing tool. It's even more rotten timing that owner Stan Kroenke's original strategy to use London as leverage in his dealings with St. Louis officials over the Dome lease was probably just the sort of negotiating muscle flexing that was needed at the time.

But the bigger shame is how a lot of circumstances that were in play when Kroenke originally signed the deal to go to London have changed over the past 12 months and this trip overseas is not such a money-making bargain anymore. So now the Rams are only on the hook for one trip to London instead of three and a new stadium deal in some yet-to-be-determined form in St. Louis seems to be somewhere off in the not-too-distant horizon.

So if the London game turns out to be a necessary evil that provoked a lot of very smart people to figure out a way to keep the Rams here in St. Louis, I say it's worth the pain of this one lost home game.

This is what I call short-term pain leading to long-term pleasure. Pay close attention over the next four months or so, and you'll start to see the makings of an agreement formulating that will keep Kroenke's NFL team right here as a permanent fixture. The clock is still ticking on the arbitration process between the Rams and the city's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the year everyone comes to the realization that refurbishing the Dome under anyone's plan won't please either side.

However, if neither side wants to spend a lot of money to refurbish the Dome for professional football then let's hope it still leads to a deal that keeps the Rams right here playing in a brand new domed or retractable-roofed stadium in the county (there sure is a lot of open space out in the Riverport complex near the Rams' Earth City training facility). …

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