St. Louis football fans concerned over stadium, not lockout

A general view of the Edward Jones Dome prior to the NFL season opener between the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams.

JEREMY HOBSON: Today, NFL owners and players will head to federal court to argue for and against football's player lockout. The fight is causing anxiety for fans across the country. But not so much in St Louis where Rams fans are more worried about losing their team.

Turns out a clause in the Rams' stadium lease allows the team to skip town, unless the city foots the bill for major upgrades.

Adam Allington has the story from St. Louis Public Radio.

ADAM ALLINGTON: The Edward Jones Dome was built in 1995, a year after the Rams moved to St. Louis. Back then it was a next-generation sports venue -- a downtown stadium with adjacent convention center for year-round use.

Last year, Sports Illustrated ranked the Dome as the worst stadium in the NFL. Fans like Andrew Wilson complain about downtown congestion, and lack of parking for tailgating.

ANDREW WILSON: Seeing a game at the Dome is ike going over to your grandparent's house. You know -- its, like, very bland. I have more fun watching it at home than I do going to the game.

Statements like that are the reason the Dome's main tenant -- the St. Louis Rams -- is weighing its options. The Rams' lease with the city requires the Dome rank among the top tier of NFL stadiums by 2015. And with the cost of new stadiums running close to $1 billion, many fans wonder if football is on its way out in St. Louis.

Bob O'Loughlin is chairman of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, which manages the Dome.

BOB O'LOUGHLIN: I think there is a lot you could do to the current stadium for a lot less than a $1 billion, but I can assure you that all of our conversations will be held in confidence until we have a deal struck.

But Rams owner, sports mogul Stan Kroenke, could demand millions of dollars in publicly-funded upgrades to the dome. Everything from high tech score boards to a retractable roof. All this at a time when Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke says the city and state can least afford it.

JIM LEMBKE: I really think that in our current climate, it's going to be very difficult to get that across the finish line.

The city will start negotiating with the Rams early next year.

Patrick Rishe is a sports economist at Webster University. He says talks in St. Louis could depend on what happens in Los Angeles, where developers are pitching their own football stadium.

PATRICK RISHE: If that happens, then teams like the St. Louis Rams, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, like the San Diego Chargers -- those teams could be fair game to relocate.

If L.A. does build a stadium, the Rams would be a likely frontrunner to move in -- after all the team lived in L.A. for nearly 50 years from 1946 to 1994.

In St. Louis, I'm Adam Allington for Marketplace.

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yea right you people are dumb to think that the rams will leave St. Louis i understand we are not the greatest team in the world but wwe were the greatest show on turf at one time and everyone in St. Louis who is a football fan is hoping to see them win again i would not mind giving back the jerseys and the name or getting a new place to play cause i would prefer to watch a game outdoors but if the dont its ok football is great in St. Louis and it will stay here if St. louis people know whats good for them

WOw, La rAMS moved from LA "lack of fans support" run down field. The team wasn't stolen from LA it went to another city that appreciated the fact that a team can play in a dome. Now St. louis is experiencing similar problems as it did in LA the NEW owner should find a city with a smaller market and with a new dome and be happy with the profits instead of rolling the dice that LA will pick up the slack that made them leave in the first place! Come on St. Louis get it together and build the RAMS a new dome. its only $$$$ mony

Give the Rams name & uniforms back to LA because they are ugly. I'm a huge St. Louis and Missouri fan and I agree that I don't feel total loyalty to the Hams. All cities should retain team names as the Browns did because it builds and retains fan loyalty to a team. Also, the St. Louis Dome is ridiculous. Football is suppose to be played outside in open-air stadiums. Rain and snow make games so much more exciting to attend and watch. I hope St. Louis keeps a NFL team by giving the Rams name back to LA, and just change to a new name and uniform that St Louis fans choose and vote on. Also, I hope St. Louis builds the best outdoor stadium and I'm willing to pay temporarily higher tax and/or bonds to help build the best, largest facility. I'm thinking make the open-air stadium face east-west with huge stainless steel arch on each end that frame the whole stadium with other unique architectural elements that relate to historical french-german-indian, Lewis-Clark mountain-men explorers and fur trappers.

Lose the "BELOVED" team?? You've got to be kidding. A team you stole by ripping it out of the hearts of other fans can never be "beloved."

Phony St. Louis fans should have insisted on a new name, uniforms, etc. when Frontierre decided to move; that way they'd have a team they could feel was their own, not somebody else's in the back of their mind they're going to continuously feel has one foot out the door, and the LA Rams could be revived in LA at a future time, the way the Browns did.

I remember how excited St. Louis "fans" acted to be stealing someone else's team, and all the silly rationalizations they had to make to do it.

Real NFL fans would never support a removed franchise--it contradicts what it means to be a fan in the first place.

St. Louis does not deserve a Football team. The Rams have not had a home field advantage since 2001. I recall the Cardinals had the same problem when they were in St.Louis. Stan Kroenke is a very sucessful business man and he knows that Los Angeles is a far better market than St. Louis with a higher return.

wow, the Rams back in L.A, cool!

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