Sports News

St. Louis fans distraught as Rams head west

ST LOUIS (Reuters) - St Louis Rams fans were left distraught by the NFL’s decision to move the team to Los Angeles on Tuesday, the second time the city has lost its franchise.

NFL owners voted overwhelmingly to give Rams owners Stan Kroenke approval to move the team to Los Angeles for the start of the 2016 season.

The city’s original NFL team, the Cardinals, who played in St Louis from 1960, left for Arizona after the 1987 season, but the Rams took their place, moving to the midwest from L.A in 1995.

Fans in downtown St. Louis expressed a mixture of sadness and rancor at the decision with anger directed at Kroenke, who masterminded the move.

“It is just a slap in the face for the city,” said Rams fan Jermaine Chambers, sitting at the bar of Stanley’s Lounge.

“Even though things might not have gone the way he wanted them to, he created the relationship with the city, so it is kind of his fault.

“Beyond that he still made money here. To dump on the city, to dump on the people and the community I just think it was classless.”

Other fans felt the NFL had let down St. Louis by failing to take into account the effort made to put together a plan for a new stadium for the 1999 Super Bowl champions.

“St Louis did everything the NFL required them to do ... and it just seemed that they were ready the whole time to take them to L.A.,” Rams fan Zach Roberts said at a downtown sports bar.

The Edward Jones Dome is still adorned with St. Louis Rams signage, in St Louis, Missouri, January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Tom Gannam

“They are going to take the team that we have had for 20 years here back to a town that couldn’t support them when they had them.”

Zach’s father Dennis Roberts said the NFL could face a backlash.

“I think they showed a lack of character and lack of concern for fans,” he said.

“Maybe in overloading the L.A. area in expectation of this big money grab, maybe it will fail. Two teams in an area where you have had none in 20 years?

“The NFL has become a bit of a bully, I just wonder if there won’t be at some point a bit of blowback and the NFL will experience a little slide.”

Missouri governor Jay Nixon said St.Louis had not deserved Tuesday’s outcome.

“This sets a terrible precedent not only for St. Louis, but for all communities that have loyally supported their NFL franchises,” he said in a statement.

“Regardless of tonight’s action, the fact remains that St. Louis is a world-class city deserving of a world-class NFL team. We will review the NFL’s decision thoroughly before determining what next steps to take.”

Those who had rallied to put together an alternative stadium plan with a $400 million commitment in public money in order to persuade the NFL to stay in St.Louis said the move was a mistake and unfair.

“Today’s decision by the NFL concludes a flawed process that ends with the unthinkable result of St. Louis losing the Rams,” said a statement from St Louis NFL Stadium Task Force.

“Over the past 15 months, our stadium task force has delivered in every respect to what the NFL demanded of St. Louis to keep our team.

“We will leave it to the NFL to explain how this could happen and hope the next city that may experience what St. Louis has endured will enjoy a happier and more appropriate outcome.”

Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Nick Mulvenney