I, along with the other St. Louis Rams Season Ticket Holders, received the following email at 12:47 PM Central Time yesterday from Rams COO Kevin Demoff:
We wanted to let our season ticket holders know that in an effort to focus on the Edward Jones Dome First Tier Process with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the St. Louis Rams are withdrawing our commitment to play a home game in London in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
We are looking forward to playing in London this season as the NFL’s international series offers a unique opportunity to grow the American football audience, expand the Rams’ brand to international fans and enhance St. Louis on the global stage. However, moving forward, we believe our attention needs to be on the ongoing First Tier process.
We appreciate your continued loyalty and look forward to an exciting 2012 season beginning this Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome when we host the Kansas City Chiefs in the Governor’s Cup!
My initial thought was “WOW!” This was a fantastic move by the Rams. They obviously realized that the three-year commitment to play in London was absurd and a slap in the face to the fans who have supported them tremendously, despite a 15-65 record during the last five seasons.
I commend Stan Kroenke, Demoff and whomever else had a role in correcting this mistake. Admitting to and correcting a mistake are two extremely honorable things a person or an organization can do. The move displays an honest attempt to try to show a new commitment to St. Louis and the fans.
I realize that this mistake should have never occurred in the first place. I believe it was a display of leverage against the CVC. Nevertheless, this is a good-faith step taken by the Rams, especially considering today’s NFL stadium environment.
Words vs. Actions
Demoff has said a lot of things this year regarding London and The Dome negotiations that contradicted the actions of the franchise and the point he was attempting to make. During a press conference yesterday, Demoff made comments that aligned perfectly with what he claims the Rams desire.
“We realize we’re gonna need to use our full attention off the field and making sure we get the off-field process correct, and that there is no confusing issues for our fan base, for the organizations, for the people involved in the discussions,” said Demoff. He continued, ”This helps really clear the deck to make sure that everybody’s going into this knowing what our passion is, and that ‘s finding a First Tier Facility solution in St. Louis.”
Demoff admitted that there was a “perception that we weren’t fully commotted to finding a solution in the marketplace towards working with the city to make sure that [staying in St. Louis] is a priority.” He also said, “The timing [of playing in London for three straight years] was just wrong.”
He even reiterated the one statement that I have been requesting from Stan Kroenke. “We’re committed to working with the city to find a First Tier Solution.” Demoff also said, “This shows St. Louis we care about getting this right, right here in St. Louis.”
These words don’t guarantee that the Rams will stay in St. Louis. However, for the first time, I believe Kroenke is negotiating in good faith. I may be wrong, but at least, fans can now focus upon the play on the field and enjoy the 2012 season.
As for the arbitration process, it is expected to begin in October or November and a resolution is dictated to be declared in December. That’s not to say that the process will be completed or finality will occur by the end of this year, as I’ve written previously. There’s a very good chance that a resolution will not occur until 2014.
For now, we can all go back to worrying about Bradford’s ability, the offensive line’s inability to block, the defensive woes and the lack of quality wide receivers. Most of the on-field issues the Rams have are being handled by competient people, including Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead, for the first time in over a decade. 2012 may not be amazing, but it will be better.
It’s still very unfortunate that the Rams are playing the best team on their home schedule, the Patriots, in London. However, I have no problem with the Rams taking their turn at “hosting” a game overseas. The initiative by the NFL to expand its fan base globally is a great idea. It’s just that 2012 isn’t ideal for Rams fans.