Missouri governor Michael Parson would welcome and embrace an NFL expansion team, should the lawsuit between St. Louis, the RSA, and the CVC settle or prevail against the NFL. He wants to show the world Missouri loves their sports and their sports franchises. Kaitlyn Schallhorn wrote in the Missouri Times that Governor Parson said the best way to bring the NFL back to St. Louis is through an expansion team, not through relocation. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” The NFL played St. Louis like a fiddle when they moved the Cardinals from St. Louis to Phoenix in 1987, and the Rams to Los Angeles in 2016.
The only difference is Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill battled with city council for a new stadium; at the time, the Cardinals played at Busch Memorial Stadium II. They wanted a dome or stadium away from downtown, but the city wanted to keep them in the downtown area. Bill Bidwill is famously quoted saying that “you can’t fight city hall.” After the Cardinals left and scanning the NFL market, St. Louis realized they needed a state-of-the-art stadium, so they built the Dome at America’s Center in 1993 without the guarantee an NFL team would play in the Gateway City.
St. Louis believed Commissioner Tagliabue would give them an expansion franchise after the NFL announced two expansion franchises would join the league in 1995. However, the franchises were awarded to Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. They were nicknamed the Panthers and Jaguars, respectively. The only reason the Rams moved to St. Louis was that their owner Georgia Frontierre, loved St. Louis, and the city gave them a friendly lease by putting the clause that stated: “if the stadium is not in the league’s top-tier (25%) after 2005, 2015, 2025, etc., the Rams can opt out and go year-to-year. The then-named Trans World Dome opened in 1995, and was considered to be in the league’s top-tier. The Rams won a Super Bowl in 2000, and went to another in 2002, however, from 2007-2011, the Rams went 15-65. This is the worst five year stretch in NFL history. Georgia Frontierre passed away in 2008, and the Rams sold-out every seat in the 66,000 seat dome up until 2007’s halfway point. For a 12-year span, the Rams sold-out the Trans World/Edward Jones Dome. Even when not sold out, the Rams averaged 45,000-60,000 fans per game. In 2010, the local media began reading the tea leaves. In 2015, Stan Kroenke opted out and went year-to-year on the lease, two years after the Rams won an arbitration battle in 2013. They proposed $700 million renovations, which would be paid by taxpayers, beat out the city’s $125 million renovations. To add insult to injury, Mr. Kroenke funded the $3 billion plus SOFI Stadium in Inglewood.
Enos Stanley Kroenke, named after St. Louis Cardinals legends Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial, bought the Rams after he exercised his first refusal right. He said in 2010: “I’m a Missourian, I can be trusted, and I will do everything possible to keep the Rams in St. Louis. This quote first appeared, to my knowledge, in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and reported by not only Ben Frederickson, but former Rams beat writer Jim Thomas too. In 2013, Stan Kroenke and his second in command, Kevin Demoff, explored land in Inglewood, California, near Hollywood Park, and they concluded this land was fantastic for a brand-new NFL stadium. In 2020, SOFI Stadium opened. Governor Parson needs to be careful what he wishes for, if he wants an expansion team, he should get a local ownership group with corporate sponsorship based in St. Louis that has St. Louis’ best interests in mind.
Alex Patterson is a 3L at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. He played football for seventeen years as an offensive and defensive lineman. He graduated from Lindenwood University-Belleville in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Sports Management. He can be followed on Twitter @alpatt71.