Angry, mournful fans in St. Louis give NFL officials an earful
Rams fans filled the Peabody Opera House in downtown St. Louis on Tuesday for the first of NFL three town hall meetings — San Diego and Oakland are next — to voice their concerns about the possibility their team will relocate.
The fans, many wearing Rams jerseys and hats, were cordial and orderly but robust in their support of the franchise, giving a loud standing ovation to Dave Peacock, who heads the city’s stadium task force, and booing every mention of Rams owner Stan Kroenke. There were five metal detectors and an explosive-sniffing dog at the door of the theater.
Proposed Carson NFL stadium(MANICA Architecture)
An artist’s rendering of the proposed new Inglewood stadium is shown.(HKS)
A rendering shows “The Hacienda” an NFL stadium proposed for Carson in 1998 by entertainment executive Michael Ovitz.(Tom Schaller/The Rockwell Group)
On stage in director’s chairs were Eric Grubman, the NFL’s executive vice president, and three other league executives: Chris Hardart, vice president of corporate development; Cynthia Hogan, senior vice president of public policy, and league attorney Jay Bauman.
Rams executive Kevin Demoff made brief introductory comments and received polite applause.
For most of the three hours, the NFL executives listened to the comments and questions but only occasionally answered them.
“If Mr. Kroenke inks a 30-year lease, I guarantee you all of this will go away,” one commenter said. “… Just sign the lease and join the St. Louis family.”
“If they move, it’s a joke,” another commenter said. “And NFL, you’ve lost one fan that will never come back.”
The Rams are backing a proposed stadium in Inglewood and hope to move back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
On the other side of this situation are droves of Los Angeles Rams fans who felt similarly bereft when their team left for St. Louis two decades ago.
Rob Audrain of St. Louis attended Tuesday night’s event wearing a Kurt Warner jersey. He said there was a feeling around St. Louis that the town hall meeting was merely a formality.
Across the aisle sat another fan, Quinton Slay, who was more optimistic about what the meeting could produce.
“I don’t think [the NFL] has decided yet,” said Slay, of St. Louis. “I feel like they’re still trying to make a decision. At least I hope.”
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