Much like a relationship, when an NFL team leaves you for their mistress, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Unless you happen to grow up a Rams fan and currently live in LA; which is exactly the situation Anna Bannister finds herself in.
Earlier in the week, NFL owners approved a plan for the St. Louis Rams to relocate to LA; giving the second largest US media market a franchise they once had more than two decades ago. As with most things in life, the move for the Rams is ultimately money-driven. Newish owner Stan Kroenke made billions in real estate and held a minority stake in the team before becoming the sole owner in 2010 and will most likely double his investment based off the move.
Bannister, founder of On the DF—a dairy free food and travel blog, who grew up in Missouri and relocated to LA after college now finds herself in a tough situation. She’s happy to be able to watch her team closer to home, but the angst of fans in her hometown leaves her feeling bittersweet about the move.
“It’s a sad day for St. Louis. Getting to grow up in Missouri as a Rams fan during The Greatest Show On Turf was unlike any other feeling. I was 10-years-old when we won the Superbowl in 2000. Then we went back in 2001 only to lose to the Pats. This wasn’t an experience many NFL fans get; especially at such a young age. Though we haven’t seen that type of play since, it doesn’t take away from my (and my family’s) loyalty to the team,” Bannister said in an interview with GuysGirl.
When Kroenke became the Rams sole owner in 2010, he did what other team owners have done by promising to keep the team in St. Louis, build a new stadium and life would be sunshine and roses. Flash forward 6 years and fans who’ve grown up with an NFL team in their backyard now find themselves staring at an empty stadium with a breakup note taped to the door.
“I’m disappointed ownership wasn’t willing to spend the money in St. Louis to support a team the city loved. While I think LA is excited for an NFL team, I don’t think it will embrace the Rams the way St. Louis has. It would have been more positive for the team to stay in St. Louis and receive the funding it needed to build the team alongside the dome/stadium,” said Bannister.
“It’s unfair to blame the fans in St. Louis for the teams’ move since it seems Stan had his eyes on LA for quite some time.” She continued, “Not that we can be sure of exact motives and how long they’ve been there, but blaming the team’s move on ‘fair-weather fans’ by saying ‘St. Louis is a baseball town’ is simply untrue. Some of my best friends in St. Louis are the most loyal Rams fans I know and my heart is a little broken for them. While I’m excited to attend games and root for the boys, it’s a bittersweet feeling knowing Stan is behind it all. But that’s not the players’ faults, and I hope that Rams fans remember that as the team moves across the country.”
Her point is spot on. Like many cities located in warm climates, LA has a slew of things to do on any given day. And if the team stinks, will transplants from all over the country, who probably already have a team allegiance, support the Rams financially and emotionally as St. Louis has? Probably not.
But the mixed use of the new stadium set to debut in 2019 sealed the deal for the move. Not only is Kroenke footing the entire bill (something unheard of nowadays), but the new stadium will be a hub for the NFL Network, the NFL Draft, The Combine and possibly, the San Diego Chargers as a tenant.
The renderings for the new Los Angeles Rams stadium are beautiful. pic.twitter.com/mgEMVgSSdW
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) January 13, 2016
The glitz and glam of Hollywood is nice, but what remains to be seen is if current STL Rams fans will follow the team after the cross-country move is complete. More than 75 percent of fans polled on the Dan Patrick show said they would not follow if their team moved and would instead pick an entire new team to root for. Which is exactly what we’ve seen from some fans already.
always liked the jags, since the Taylor/jones drew Era, and I can't bring myself to support the LA rams, so I'm switching to @BigCatCountry
— Cody Jones (@thelovepanther) January 13, 2016
While this situation remains bittersweet for Bannister, she’s already declared she’ll be one of the Rams fans cheering in their new LA home:
“At the end of the day, I hope this move is positive for the players, for the team as a whole and the organization receives support from LA. I assume it will be a warm welcome, tickets will sell out and the new stadium will be just as incredible as it sounds. I just hope it all adds up to a little staying power. I know my brother and I will be there for the first game this fall, wearing our now-vintage “STL RAMS” shirts.”
Featured image via Sara Repanich