Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gordo: Jilted by NFL, St. Louis Courts an Old Flame

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gordo: Jilted by NFL, St. Louis Courts an Old Flame

Article excerpt

As it turned out, the Dave Peacock-led effort to keep the Rams wasn't such a stupid and futile gesture after all.

True, key NFL leaders had less than no interest in his plans. They were in the tank for Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The NFL's relocation point man, Eric Grubman, openly campaigned against St. Louis' stadium proposal and for Kroenke's plan. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones backed Stan to the hilt, going so far as to call the land- hoarding recluse an "angel."

Come on, Jerry, that's not a halo on Kroenke's head. It's a hairpiece.

This maneuvering was reminiscent of Roger Goodell, then in a Grubman-like role on expansion in the early 1990s, propping up Jacksonville as the unlikely alternative to Baltimore and St. Louis. That decision led to the Browns and Rams moving. The NFL gained a smallish North Florida market and lost LA for two decades. Idiots!

Then, as today, the NFL rejected St. Louis. In the face of that negativity Peacock rallied support for the stadium and cleared many daunting political hurdles. His intrepid campaign reaffirmed that we really do have a vibrant sports market.

Those efforts helped rally Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III, Blues president and CEO Chris Zimmerman, World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, omnipresent sports marketer Jim Woodcock and other prominent St. Louisans behind the Major League Soccer expansion team quest.

The exploratory group, calling itself MLS2STL, is riding the local momentum Peacock and Co. built for its riverfront stadium proposal. It will ponder potential soccer stadium sites and woo potential team owners.

Perhaps some members of the group will want in on the ownership action, too, since MLS appears to be an up-and-coming sports entity.

And then there is this: MLS, unlike the NFL, actually covets this market. It recognizes our tremendous soccer heritage. Our children play the sport, from CYC leagues to select squads, academy teams and elite prep programs. It sees St. Louisans playing in the MLS and internationally.

Commissioner Don Garber is eager to see what Peacock and Co. can present. He is not just going through the motions to adhere to some "league guidelines" scribbled with crayon on the back of a cocktail napkin. There is sincere interest, expressed to Peacock directly.

"We look forward to working with the group to further evaluate St. Louis and see if it is ready for an MLS expansion team," Garber said.

So we proceed. Peacock has access to tons of pro-St. Louis sports materials. All he has to do is superimpose soccer balls over the footballs and he will be good to go.

Much groundwork has already been done on the potential riverfront stadium site, although a site closer to downtown development or redevelopment, like Union Station, could make more sense.

(Meanwhile the folks running America's Center are pondering options for the Edward Jones Dome now that the Rams have evacuated. …

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