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The Stadium Scam, St. Louis Edition

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While I feel bad for fans of the St. Louis Rams now that they have moved back to Los Angeles, it’s hard not to feel the city has escaped a huge weight around its neck through another publicly-funded stadium. After all, the city of St. Louis only still owes a mere $100 million plus on the now useless dome the team agreed to build in 1995.

At least St. Louis residents will be able to drown their sorrows in the city’s world-defining cuisine.

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  • efgoldman

    The scam just keeps on scamming.

  • endaround

    They can always use the stadium to store the sanctimony of Cardinal’s fans.

    • Woodrowfan

      too small.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    interesting that the Rams are self-financing the new stadium

    • Todd

      It would have been pretty unseemly to do otherwise, even in the realm of greedy NFL owners. A several hour trip west by a convoy of moving trucks turned Kroenke’s $1.5 billion franchise into a $3 billion franchise. He already owned the land, and with his business partners owns a couple of hundred surrounding acres (which will be turned into entertainment/retail/commercial stuff). The Chargers are likely a week or two away from agreeing to defray a sizeable portion of the construction/operating costs as a minority tenant/partner in the stadium. Even more than the Cowboys’ mega-stadium, Kroenke’s LA stadium will be stuffed to the gills during the offseason with Superbowls, college football games/bowls, final fours, concerts, conventions, and the like.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        that does explain a lot, thanks. it still surprises me a *little* because I think of NFL owners as being cut from the same cloth as CEO-types who chisel their dry-cleaning and dog-walking out of the companies

      • CrunchyFrog

        Well, in addition to that while I know no details of the Inglewood deal but it seems likely that there will be a huge government investment in infrastructure to support this stadium-centered megacomplex both initially and ongoing. Proponents of the deal will argue that this will generate a lot of sales tax revenue for the local governments, which is true, and for the state, which is true to the extent that the purchases at the shopping/lodging/dining/stadium complex aren’t diverted from other parts of the state. BUT … having seen how these deals have gone down elsewhere, when all the dust settles I’ll be shocked if there doesn’t turn out to be a large government net subsidy involved.

        • rea

          Wouldn’t any commercial development of similar magnitude get similar infrastructure support?

          • efgoldman

            Wouldn’t any commercial development of similar magnitude get similar infrastructure support?

            Maybe in CA and some other places. Not necessarily in the Northeast.
            GE just announced they’re moving their corporate HQ from CT to Boston. The weeping and wailing over tax breaks/incentives has already started. And there are almost no infrastructure improvements (a bridge between downtown and South Boston will be rebuilt, which is something which should have been done, anyway.)

  • efgoldman

    As the “new” stadiums in NFL cities become “obsolete”, and governments refuse to replace them, maybe we’ll eventually have 20 teams in Texas and Florida.

    • CrunchyFrog

      And a bunch of oversized, relatively new, underutilized stadia in all the other major cities. The idea that a stadium – an obviously bad investment for a local government with a few rare exceptions – is obsolete and needs replacing after 20 years is absurd on the face of it. But that’s the bill of goods that’s been sold in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Indy.

      • rea

        Atlanta seemed also to involve moving the stadium away from the blacks.

      • Philip

        And a bunch of oversized, relatively new, underutilized stadia in all the other major cities.

        Sounds great! More space for football teams!

        • CrunchyFrog

          Not clear how well that applies, given that assoc fussball requires a wider stadium and generally no artificial turf (meaning, not indoor). It’s true that they somehow got the Pontiac Silverdome to work for the 1994 World Cup, for example, but I’m not sure how well this would work on a permanent basis.

    • bs
  • LifeOntheFallLine

    The more I read results like this the happier I am the good people here rejected outright the demands to build the local AA baseball team a new field.

  • Jay B

    While I feel bad for fans of the St. Louis Rams now that they have moved back to Los Angeles.

    They can still be fans. I’ve been (honestly) a lifelong Patriots fan. I’ve been to two games live. One in the old Sullivan Stadium, I was a teen. It was exactly like a big high school stadium, with fewer amenities. The other was last year in San Diego, where Pats fans represented half the crowd and the Chargers were nominally good at the time. Granted, I grew up in New England, but I haven’t lived there in almost 20 years. Football, more than baseball or basketball or hockey or soccer — is better at home, or at a bar (soccer is good at bars too). Rams fans can still watch the games and don’t have to go to that concrete hellhole in downtown St. Louis to do so. I get not wanting to support a dink like Kroenke, but I wouldn’t have wanted to when he presided over one of the worst decades in NFL history too.

    What I am saying I guess, is that fandom at this point is not strictly determined by geography or stadium location.

    At the same time, I also know that the Rams will be an afterthought in LA — and that the Pats, Steelers, Packers and a half dozen other teams will have FAR more fans than the home team will when they visit.

    • efgoldman

      I’ve been to two games live. One in the old Sullivan Stadium, I was a teen

      I went to the first exhibition, in 1960, at BU field, to three or four games at Fenway (including one in a blizzard) and an exhibition at Sullivan (then still Schaeffer) in the very early years. Never been to Gillette, probably won’t ever be.
      BU was about halfway through it’s transformation from the old Braves Field. The right field corner wall and seats were still extant, as were the old gates and ticket windows.
      Fenway was actually not that bad a place to watch football, if you had decent seats.

    • Epsilon

      At the same time, I also know that the Rams will be an afterthought in LA — and that the Pats, Steelers, Packers and a half dozen other teams will have FAR more fans than the home team will when they visit.

      As a St. Louis Rams season ticket holder for 15 years (I refused to participate in Kroenke’s farce this final year), I can assure you that that was already the case, at least starting in 2007 when the infamous 15-65 stretch began.

      I’m inclined to agree that we can remain fans, but a lot of people have their fandom so intricately tied to their city that they can’t fathom rooting for a team that doesn’t have their name in front of it. Ultimately, you’re right though that football is better on TV anyway, and as much as I despise Kroenke, I never rooted for the team or players because of him anyway. I can’t bring myself to suddenly root for another team, or give up football entirely, so I’m planning on remaining a Rams fan (albeit conflicted and sad at times.)

      Plus I can’t imagine not continuing to root for Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn and their D-line cohorts and Todd Gurley has been the only flash of genuine offensive excitement this team has seen since Stephen Jackson. (The Rams’ persistent offensive woes is somewhat ironic given their claim to fame as The Greatest Show on Turf.)

      I would quibble with the notion that baseball is better in person, at least with respect to seeing all of the important things that go on in a game. So much of the game of baseball takes place in and around the strike zone and unless you have very particular seats it can be extremely difficult to accurately see where a pitch was exactly or how good/bad it was. I love going to baseball games live for atmospheric and other reasons, but I always leave feeling like I need to watch some key at-bats on a TV replay to fully understand the game I just watched.

  • CrunchyFrog

    By the way, there’s been a lawsuit filed asking for class action status on behalf of the PSL holders in St. Louis. The argument is that the PSLs were to be valid at least through 2025 and that the contract said the team would use “best efforts” to transfer PSLs to a new stadium if there were a move.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/illinois/personal-seat-license-holders-sue-rams/article_0d6e239f-639a-5d95-b20e-14e514e074e9.html

    It’s hard to figure out how much merit there is in this based solely on the articles, which present only one side, but it sounds plausible. I wonder how much of the P&L for the new mega complex relied on new PSL sales in LA.

    • Breadbaker

      There is a precedent in Seattle.

    • Patrick

      I imagine getting a transferred PSL for the LA stadium and selling it (or the tickets) on would make for a decent return on investment.

  • rea

    The Rams belong in LA, the Cardinals in St. Louis, any other arrangement is contrary to natural law and the proper order of the universe. Arizona can be the Gila Monsters, or something.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Wouldn’t the Rams belong in Cleveland?

      • Ken

        When “proper order of the universe” is used, the phrase “the way it was when I was twelve years old” is understood.

        See also “one of those -stans”, meaning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other countries that did not exist when the speaker was twelve years old.

        • Breadbaker

          Wouldn’t the Cardinals belong in Chicago?

          • efgoldman

            And the Bears in Decatur (re-renamed The Staleys)?

            • Richard Hershberger

              I am opposed to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia having separate teams. Bring back the Steagles!

              • Lee Rudolph

                And have their home stadium be in State College, after disbanding Penn State’s team!

        • CrunchyFrog

          Yep, its like all the boomers whining about the Brooklyn Dodgers and how no era since can possibly compare to that great era.

  • postpartisandepression

    Don’t really watch football – I’d always rather do something than watch but I can’t for the life of me understand why any city would pay to build a stadium for any team. Frankly I’d ask them to pay me for letting them sell tickets to my citizens.

    Same with any business. Why does any city give tax breaks to any company? My attitude is I have good schools and good infrastructure; you want to be here and take advantage of that then you will pay just like everyone else.

    Isn’t that called capitalism? When will cities learn?

    • Rob in CT

      Why does any city give tax breaks to any company?

      This makes more sense than stadium deals, IMO.

      Your city has a major employer. Thousands of jobs. Good ones, say. That employer is considering (read: threatening) to pull up stakes and move elsewhere, and the threat is actually credible. Let’s also say your city has already taken hits like this before. What do you do?

      I agree in general that this practice of enticing businesses to move/stay via tax breaks is pernicious. But I find it hard to fault individual cities for doing it (particularly if it’s to keep an existing industry rather than poach one from elsewhere). It’s a collective action problem.

  • gusmpls

    15 years since quitting football fandom, I still remain in the loop somewhat, but I had no idea this was a thing. I figured the NFL was just going to use LA as a cudgel to get cities to build stadiums forever. Did St. Louis call their bluff, and it turned out not to be a bluff?

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