The attitude probably would have been different some years ago about public financing of stadiums for professional sports, mainly football. Time has a way of changing attitudes. What has been brewing in the St. Louis area, and in other places, has not been a better Budweiser but resentment against wealthy owners wanting too much from the taxpayers to finance new or expanded glossy stadiums.
Remember the joy and pride when St. Louis obtained the Rams? Remember the adulation when the Rams brought home a Super Bowl trophy? After years of mediocre and underachieving performances, the luster and appeal have waned even though hopes spring eternal by diehard fans that better days are ahead. They don’t want the team to move because the Edward Jones Dome doesn’t meet today’s high standards and upgrades are being mandated or the team may head west.
We don’t want the Rams to leave. The team is important to this region. The team is an economic engine even if it depends on a lot of taxpayer fuel and at times seems to have been running on one cylinder. The Rams need the region. The ticket-base extends beyond St. Louis city and county.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitor Commission, which operates the Dome, and the Rams have submitted upgrade plans. They are far apart due to costs and who pays what. If no agreement is reached by June 15 the matter goes to arbitration. The lease with the team mandates that the Dome must be a first-tier facility by 2015 or it could be goodbye Rams.
Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke of Walmart wealth could soothe the public attitude problem by offering to put substantial money into the mix. Money has a way of helping to change attitudes.
This is a test of St. Louis’ leadership. A leader, or leaders, are needed to bring the factions together. Those who are preaching a calm attitude in finding a solution are pointing to the right direction. The Rams must be willing to participate. Kroenke needs to display leadership also. In fact, he has a lead role and must perform better than his team has in recent years. He could become a super star and Most Valuable Owner in the NFL!