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In a letter dated July 2, the Convention and Visitors Commission officially told the St. Louis Rams that it would not be paying the bill with public funds for a proposed $700 million improvement to the Edward Jones Dome. On July 1, Eric Garcetti officially became the mayor of Los Angeles. These two events will become much more closely linked than many sports pundits and fans in this region want to believe.
During the campaign, the Los Angeles Times asked five L.A. mayoral candidates this question: "Do you believe that having a professional football team would bring in new revenue and not just move revenue from one type of entertainment to another?"
Garcetti replied: “Yes, professional football is a uniquely popular attraction that draws fans from across the region. Big games, like the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl, draw huge interest in our city and encourage talented individuals to move to L.A. In fact, my friend Jan Perry decided to move to L.A. after attending the Rose Bowl!”
I didn’t add that exclamation point. The Times did, showing that Garcetti answered quite enthusiastically.
Also on July 1, Herb Wesson won re-election as president of the L.A. City Council by a unanimous 13-0 vote. Wesson is regarded as the main force for the council approving a deal for the construction of Farmers Field in downtown L.A. and is an unabashed backer of returning the NFL to his city.
No ground has been broken for the Farmers Field project; there is another stadium proposal in the City of Industry area; and there is growing talk of Chavez Ravine, home of Dodger Stadium, as the best site for a new stadium. L.A. is far from football-ready, unless the Rose Bowl is pressed into duty.
We have been treated to various columns by various folks here in St. Louis saying the Rams aren’t moving. They say the Rams have no leverage. They say the NFL would not give up the bargaining chip that is L.A.
In my opinion, the Rams have all the leverage. The franchise is now free to move after the 2014 season, folks. Owner Stan Kroenke could go to a year-to-year lease at the Edward Jones Dome, but I don’t see that happening for more than a year.
I’ve written many times that either a new stadium will be in the region’s future or the Rams will be elsewhere. I’ve also said that the region is going to have to pony up either some cash or some land or something of big value to satisfy Kroenke.
This talk of the state and Gov. Jay Nixon sitting down to talk turkey with Kroenke is pure folly and foolishness. Regardless of what Nixon could offer, the Republican dominated legislature is going to say no. This legislature can’t stand St. Louis for the most part, and it proves as much on an almost weekly basis whenever it's in session.
The state will not rescue St. Louis.
Meanwhile in L.A., its two most powerful elected officials want a team. Now they officially have a team to target. Garcetti and Wesson can say without a doubt that the Rams could move to L.A. for the 2015 season if the right deal is proposed to the franchise. The Rams will listen if L.A. calls.
We can laugh and say it is impossible—but the truth is that it can now officially happen. The CVC’s letter of July 2 has been said to mean nothing. I disagree—it means a lot.
Commentary by Alvin Reid