ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - About 1,500 St. Louis Rams fans—mostly season ticket holders—poured into the Peabody Opera House on Tuesday night to make their case to NFL officials about why their team should remain in St. Louis and not be moved to Los Angeles by owner Stan Kroenke.
The chants of “Let’s go Rams!” echoed through the building as officials took the stage for the three hour meeting. The central figure: Eric Grubman, the NFL vice president who has led much of the league’s exploration of a move to Los Angeles. He’s the one many fans directed their questions—and, at times, their venom—toward.
Many of the speakers referred straight to the NFL’s relocation guidelines, which they say suggests Kroenke, who has never negotiated directly with St. Louis officials about a possible new stadium, should not be allowed to move the team.
“Please do not even insinuate that Stan Kroenke and the Rams worked diligently and in good faith to obtain and maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories,” one season ticket holder, Jill Bauer, said. “Please do not insult me, or the city, or anybody in this room.”
Sports radio talk show host Randy Karraker drew cheers as he hit another popular page out of the same NFL book.
“Your guidelines say that no club has an entitlement to relocate simply because it perceives an opportunity for enhanced club revenues in another location,” he said.
Joel Neally, a Rams season ticket holder, confronted Grubman with the question, “Do you believe that the Rams have met the proposed NFL relocation guidelines?”
The league vice president was quick with his response.
“I’m gonna state the obvious first that it doesn’t really matter what I think. It matters what the 32 (owners) think,” he said. The owners will eventually vote to determine which franchise, if any, moves to the Los Angeles area.
Others tried to demonstrate the loyalty of St. Louis fans. One man, 81 years-old, broke down trying to speak of his years of fandom, first living in LA when the team moved from Cleveland, and then eventually relocating to St. Louis to follow his team. His wife read his statement for him, saying owners aren’t really owners.
“They belong to the fans like me. The owners are just the caretakers,” she said.
Others spoke of the commitment of fans here, even when the team was simply awful.
“St. Louis loves the Rams. We love ‘em. Nobody attends games who has been subjected to 11 years of mediocre football and five years of the worst football in the history of the game,” Jerry Brendell said.
There was also bitterness.
“If they move, it’s a joke and the NFL has lost one fan who will never come back,” season ticket holder Al Sansone said. “This would be twice in my lifetime losing a team and I won’t let there be a third.”