Rams left; St. L loves football

THE ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS (in blue) in XFL football action (Wikipedia).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

It’s unlikely that many Rams fans shed a tear when Stan Kroenke brought the team back from Missouri, leaving St. Louis without pro football. After all, didn’t they steal the Rams from us in the first place?

If you’re a long-time Rams follower, the return to LA – well, Inglewood – was poetic justice. And, in those dark days without the NFL, we tended to cover our ears and avert our eyes to all the news from the Gateway City regarding the so-called “Greatest Show on Turf” in which the Rams won one Super Bowl (against the Tennessee Titans) and lost one (against the New England Patriots).

Stan Kroenke’s gold-plated efforts brought the Rams back to sunny SoCal, along two Super Bowl appearances and one NFL title. We are happy as clams.

But back in St. Louis there’s a whole metropolitan area without pro football. Or, to be more precise, the most prestigious variety. The revival of the once-awful XFL this spring has given fans on the Mississippi river a team to root for.

Transferring their love to the St. Louis Battlehawks has made turnstiles spin at Edward Jones Dome. Saturday’s game against the Vegas Vipers drew more than 35,000 fans, and a Week Four game put 38,310 paying fans in the seats.

Those are not NFL numbers, but neither are they NFL games. The success of the team – 6-2, so far – has revived a love of football in the area. If the Battlehawks can draw those kinds of attendance stats  – best-ever for the league – they could probably double that with a winning team in the top pro league.

There is tremendous demand for more expansion in the NFL, and lots of money for anyone who pulls it off. Just as soccer (they call it “football”) is gaining popularity in America, “our” football is getting a growing following in Europe. TV money rules.

Sr. Louis has a bigger media market than 12 NFL cities. Since the league likes to expand two teams at a time, pairing a new San Antonio (for instance) team with a transplanted Battlehawks operation makes a lot of sense.

Especially if you have a tiny, little sliver of guilt over the Rams thing.

Nah, neither do I.



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