After a year of unpredictability, the race to LA has finally come to a close. In a 30-2 vote, NFL owners voted to go with Stan Kroenke and the Rams’ stadium plan in Inglewood, rather than the Chargers and Raiders’ joint stadium plan in Carson. While fans of the Rams from their 49 years in Los Angeles are ecstatic to finally get their team back. However, this left the fans in St. Louis in heartbreak. Obviously, the initial reaction of the fans is to blame the owner, but it is not Stan Kroenke’s fault. While St. Louis did provide the only viable plan of all three home markets, and Kroenke didn’t make much of an effort to listen, he gave St. Louis their chance in 2013, and they blew it.
When the Rams moved into the Edward Jones Dome, part of their lease was to eventually provide a first tier stadium for the Rams. In 2013 Kroenke offered a $700 million plan to renovate the dome to make this first tier stadium a reality. However, it was St. Louis who rejected the project. Kroenke showed that he was willing to play ball, but St. Louis decided that they didn’t want to. Because of this, Stan Kroenke was able to convert his lease to year-to-year, giving him the freedom to leave the city at any time, pending a vote from the NFL owners. Once the lease was broken, Stan owed nothing to the city of St. Louis, and had every right to explore other options. Unfortunately for them, that included Los Angeles, which was the home of the Rams for 49 years, compared to St. Louis’ mere 21, giving them as much, if not more of a claim to the team than St. Louis.
While St. Louis did provide a $900 million riverfront stadium plan, it was only put in place as a last ditch effort to keep the team, after seeing that Kroenke was actually willing to use his power to leave. They do deserve credit for actually putting something together, but comparing the St. Louis task force’s proposal to Kroenke’s Inglewood palace is like comparing a brand new Ferarri to a used Honda Civic. Kroenke’s plan was too good to beat, and nobody was going to stop him once the plan was put on the table. It is the city’s fault for putting themselves in that situation, and had St. Louis funded the renovations in 2013, no new stadium plan involving the Rams would have had to exist, and the city wouldn’t be saying goodbye to their team.
Had St. Louis taken Kroenke and the Edward Jones Dome lease seriously, they would haves seized the opportunity to renovate the Dome, securing the Rams for the foreseeable future. Instead, the city decided to call Kroenke’s bluff, but it turned out Kroenke had an ace up his sleeve. It is clear that once the renovations were denied, Kroenke was finished with St. Louis. Once he set his sights on Los Angeles, Kroenke never looked back. While the fans of St. Louis have the right to be upset over the loss of their team, they should learn the facts before putting the blame on Kroenke, and realize that much of the blame is on themselves.