With its decision yesterday to allow the Rams to leave St. Louis, the National Football League ownership has let down hometown fans and cities across our country. Despite a viable and exciting stadium proposal and the strong support of the community of Rams fans, the League has astonishingly chosen to throw away 20 years of backing and a market that ranks solidly among current NFL cities.
The spirit and the letter of the NFL policy and procedures for franchise relocations are intended to reward fan loyalty and support and promote stable relations. Unfortunately, St. Louis was not given a real chance to remain an NFL city — not by the owner of the Rams and not by the League.
We are very proud and grateful to the true St. Louis team: Led by Bob Blitz and Dave Peacock, St. Louis put together a very strong and fair proposal in a short period with backing from the business community – most notably Enterprise Holdings, Inc., and from the public sector – most notably Governor Jay Nixon, Mayor Francis Slay, President Louis Reed and the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen.
Their great work follows the stellar performance of the Regional Stadium Authority and the Convention and Visitors Commission. They went to extraordinary lengths to engage the Rams in negotiations for a new stadium to keep the NFL in St. Louis for decades to come. It is not their fault that they were rebuffed. In particular, Kitty Ratcliffe, CVC President, has effectively led us through a complicated relationship with complex challenges for a long time.
We learned a lot in this process. We learned St. Louis can do great things. We saw what civic and business leadership, collaboration, and determination can accomplish. Just as we came together as a region for football, we can and will come together to grow our economy in an equitable way. That includes repurposing the money from the football stadium to improve our convention center, the Scottrade Center, and to finish the land acquisition on our riverfront, investments that will grow our economy.
It also means keeping our attention on creating jobs around our regional strengths and focusing on the fundamentals by delivering high-quality education and job training to all residents in our region, attracting the best talent to St. Louis, and supporting our entrepreneurs and innovators.
NFL football was worth pursuing. But, St. Louis is a great region, and with or without football we will make it even better.