Op-Ed: Why a St. Louis Rams fan keeps coming back to the dome
While the NFL stadium drama continues to unfold and everyone wonders if the St. Louis Rams will still be the St. Louis Rams, or return to Los Angeles, fans are among those left in the middle. We wanted to know how fans are handling it all, in particular a fan who has only known the Rams as a St. Louis product. Kevin Munie, a 21 year-old Parkway North graduate in the middle of his senior year at the University of Missouri, took us up on the offer.
For the last 16 years of my life, I have been going to St. Louis Rams games week in and week out knowing there was another waiting for me. That was not the case on Thursday night, with the unknowing ahead for St. Louis Rams fans. Over the last couple of years, Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Rams, has made his aggressive plans well known to the NFL that he would like to move the Rams to a stadium, which he is constructing, in Inglewood, California. Kroenke has not spoken to fans publicly since the Rams hired Jeff Fisher, four years ago, and has alienated a fan base as a whole.
So you ask why I chose to go to a game that means all but nothing, instead of going down the street to 14th and Clark to watch a team with an owner who cares deeply about his team and city in the St. Louis Blues. My answer to that question is honestly and whole-heartedly is that I do not know why. I grew up watching this team and going to games with my father. When I was five, I remember getting an Isaac Bruce jersey and never wanting to take that darn thing off. I remember always asking my dad when the next Rams game was, and just being the happiest kid you could ever imagine going to these games with my dad and hanging out with 62,000 of my closest friends every Sunday. I remember seeing the same people ten times a year and being able to walk up to them like they were my closest friend and just talk Rams football. It has been there every Sunday for me in the Fall and is just a little three hour getaway from the daily stresses of life that I cherish deeply. Not having that possibility is killing me inside.
Now, fast-forward the clock to Thursday night, and the emotional, bittersweet
game that it was featuring two teams that were both all but out of playoff contention. A game that featured the Rams scoring as many points as they did in the previous four games combined. It was a nice reprieve of “good” football that has not made itself public, similar to the owner, around St. Louis in a long time. It was a getaway from relocation news for just a little while. Nevertheless, even with the game going on you could not escape the talks of moving. Whether it was the loud chants of “Keep the Rams!” or “Kroenke Sucks”, you could not escape it.
I have been in the Edward Jones Dome over 100 times in my life. For playoff games, regular season games with the Dome packed to the rafters and for games that you could not pay someone to attend. Thursday night just had a different vibe and feel to it. It was one of bitterness and sweetness. Bitter towards an owner who does not want to be in St. Louis and making it extremely difficult for you to get invested into a team with a whole lot of young a rising talent, when you do not even know if they will be here next year. However, it was sweet because you could savor what you may have left and remember all the great times shared in the Edward Jones Dome. The honoring of the past legends from the Greatest Show on Turf era, was one of joy and sadness, because you remember all the great times that were had with them, but you also think about how long it has been since then, and the chance that you may never get to experience that again. The fans that were in the Edward Jones Dome Thursday night were loud and they were proud to be fans of the ST. LOUIS Rams. When the game ended, you could tell there was a different vibe. People were saying goodbye in a sort not knowing if they would ever see the inside of this stadium again. Saying bye to the friends they have made and all the random people that they hugged and high-fived after big plays over the years. As well as saying goodbye to the possibility of the ending of memories and the lack of new ones to come.
So you ask why I keep coming back week in and week out. It is for the payoff. The payoff that one day will come down the line when the Rams once again are the talk of the town and the league itself. I want to say I was there for the horrendous years because it will make it so much sweeter and such a wonderful payoff to be there when they are finally on top again playing in front of a packed house on the riverfront. I want to take my kids to Rams games just like my dad did for me and I want them to experience the joy that the early 2000’s brought me as a kid and the reason I still love this team to the bitter end today. I want to see the smile on my kids face when the Rams bring the Lombardi trophy down Market Street. If we are lucky enough to keep the Rams in St. Louis for years to come, I will be there just as I always am every Sunday, week in and week out, loving and supporting a team that has a weird way of showing it back to me. I do know this, is if they are back next year I will be there for long haul because I want to be there for the payoff and for the future memories to come.