2014 DRAFT GUIDE
In St. Louis, football finds fragile foothold

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER - Associated Press
    2013-10-27 10:29

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The televised spectacle that is Monday Night Football once meant a packed stadium, an enthralled home audience and the sporting nation's undivided attention.

Not in St. Louis, and particularly not this Monday, when the near-dynastic St. Louis Cardinals can anticipate a red army at Busch Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

Eight blocks away at the antiseptic Edward Jones Dome - an indoor stadium attached to the city's convention center that the St. Louis Rams say falls far below their needs - the prime-time matchup between the struggling Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will likely feature thousands of empty seats.

The Rams' average home attendance of 55,395 this season is second-worst in the 32-team NFL, ahead of only the Oakland Raiders. On Friday, upper-level tickets could be bought online for as little as $7.

Pro football may have a firm foothold as America's game, but in these baseball-mad parts, the NFL is decidedly second fiddle. And with the Rams' lease set to expire next year and the stadium authority's rejecting a $700 million upgrade sought by the team, fans are girded for the possibility of a second NFL exodus in 30 years. The football St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1987, and the city went nearly a decade without a franchise until the Los Angeles Rams arrived in 1995.

''Clearly, the Rams have been terrible and the Cards have been astonishingly good,'' said Jeff Rainford, chief of staff to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Rainford said from 2007 through 2011, the Rams compiled the worst five-year record in NFL history, including a one-win season in 2009 and two-win seasons in 2008 and 2011. That 2000 Super Bowl win is a distant memory.

The Cardinals, by contrast, have been a study in consistent excellence, with World Series titles in 2006 and 2011 and playoff appearances in 10 of the past 14 seasons. The team drew nearly 3.4 million fans to Busch Stadium this season, averaging 41,602, the second highest in the MLB. It was the 10th straight season where attendance topped 3 million, and the 17th time in franchise history.

Meanwhile, fan interest in the Rams wanes as their on-field performance and long-term future is shaky. Season attendance declined from 522,608 in 2006 to 396,925 last year, an average of 49,615 in the 66,000-seat dome.

Apathy has grown so strong that the Greater St. Louis Quarterback Club quietly dissolved several years ago.

''I'm the only person left right now,'' club secretary Kathy Danielsen said. ''The Rams haven't been good for so long, I guess they figured, what's the use?''

The Rams can break their stadium lease after the 2014 season or opt for an annual contract after a non-binding arbitration that favored the team's stadium upgrade proposal over a more modest effort sought by local entities was rejected in July. A clause in the Rams' lease requires the local convention group provide the team with a ''first-tier'' stadium - defined as among the top eight of 32 National Football League teams - by 2005, and again by 2015, or 20 years after the building opened.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has taken over negotiations with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, a rural Missouri native who also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, Denver's pro soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as the top-flight English soccer club Arsenal in London, where the NFL plays at least one regular season game since 2007.

Kroenke has previously said he wants to keep the team in St. Louis, though his connection to London and the NFL's increased efforts there make some uneasy. Civic and business leaders in Los Angeles are also pushing for an NFL return, but efforts to build a stadium there have stagnated.

Nixon wasn't available for comment late last week, his spokesman said.

''If I had to predict, I'd say they're going to be here,'' Rainford said. ''They don't have any leverage at this point. L.A. is cloudy, and there aren't any other markets stepping forward. I don't detect any sense of urgency on the Rams' part.''

Nor is there much visible sign of outward enthusiasm for the Rams, as the Cardinals again dominate local interest deep into the fall. Ubiquitous ''Let's go CARDS!'' banners hang from restaurant awnings, front doors, highway overpasses and corporate office towers across the city, including at bars and hotels adjacent to the dome.

Even the tony downtown Missouri Athletic Club, billed in a preseason program as ''the official social club of the St. Louis Rams'' and whose members include coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, had a lobby festooned with red and white balloons as the World Series kicked off.

The Cardinals' dominance - on and off the field - even garners attention in the Rams' locker room, particularly among players who grew up or attended college in Missouri.

''I've been to a bunch of Cards games,'' said kicker Greg Zuerlein, a Nebraska native who attended Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. ''It seems like they're always there, right near the top. And that's where we want to be.''

---

Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

Ray McDonaldMar 24 02:02p

Free-agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers) is signing an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24.

Stephen BowenMar 24 01:32p

Free-agent DE Stephen Bowen (Redskins) is signing an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, March 24.

Geno SmithMar 24 01:22p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback ahead of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entering training camp this summer, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. 'You [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerMar 24 01:12p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a realistic option for the Tennessee Titans with the second overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is impressed [ More ]

Jarvis JenkinsMar 24 10:42a

Free-agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins) agreed with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24, on a one-year deal.

Johnny ManzielMar 24 08:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is expected back with the team for offseason workouts April 20 after completing more than two months of treatment.

Adrian PetersonMar 23 07:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday, March 23, that he doesn't think 'it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota' in 2015 and beyond. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is expected to be part of the Vikings next season, according to general manager Rick Spielman. 'Adrian's a member of our football team,' Spielman [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 23 01:22p

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will not be traded, according to general manager Mickey Loomis. Recent speculation said that Brees may be on the trade block after his [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 12:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's preference is to play elsewhere than with the Vikings in 2015, according to a league source. He is under contract through the 2017 season [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 22 08:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's future remains unclear, but head coach Mike Zimmer recently said that the Vikings are 'excited' to have him back. Zimmer had previously said that [ More ]

James HarrisonMar 22 12:42p

Free-agent LB James Harrison (Steelers) signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Branden OliverMar 21 03:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver is penciled in as the starting running back at this point.

EJ ManuelMar 21 12:52a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is not locked in as the starting quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, March 20, that the quarterback competition will be open. 'It's [ More ]

Kevin VickersonMar 20 05:52p

Free-agent DT Kevin Vickerson (Chiefs) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 20.

Matt MooreMar 20 04:32p

Free-agent QB Matt Moore (Dolphins) re-signed with the Miami Dolphins Friday, March 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonMar 20 02:42p

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is clearly wanted back by the organization, and general manager Rick Spielman once again stressed that they will make every [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group