Cheap Seats

Could the Cardinals ownership help solidify the NFL in St. Louis

I wrote a column a while back that stated my belief that the Rams' troubles in St. Louis are less a statement about the quality of sports fans in this community than an indictment of the ownership and management of the local NFL team's management.

After all, the Cardinals pack their stadium 81 times a year, not counting playoffs. And that strong support has allowed a relatively small market team to play with the big boys in New York and Los Angeles, making the playoffs on a consistent basis. The NHL Bles don't have the hardware the Redbirds have won. But they also have enjoyed a loyal and generous fan base.

It's pretty clear at this point, after he announced his intention to build a stadium in LA that Rams owner Stan Kroenke doesn't plan to stick around here one way or another. So, if Kroenke decides to turn his back on his home state, who will St. Louis fans turn to in order to restore NFL football to the banks of the Mississippi River.

A lot of folks have wondered who would want to take a chance on a two-time NFL loser. Well, the Cardinals' ownership doesn't have the deep pockets of the billionaire formerly of Columbia, Mo. But Bill DeWitt Jr. and his crew do have a history of knowing how to get business deals done and raising money. While fans might not agree with every move the Cardinals make, it's impossible to argue that the Cardinals haven't been loyal to their fans as this region as much as fans have been loyal to them.

Maybe it would be too much to ask for the Redbirds leaders to take on running a second major sports franchise. But if they can run a baseball team in a league with no salary cap and limited revenue sharing, running an NFL franchise seems like a walk in the park.

Still, while I'd love to see the Rams stay -- or another football team come to replace them -- I'd hate to see anything happen to upset the good thing St. Louis has going on with its baseball team.

While it's unthinkable that the Cardinals would ever move, it hasn't always been that way. There were efforts in the 1950s -- before they got Busch Stadium II built -- to move our beloved Redbirds to Milwaukee and Houston.

It's a shame that short-sighted and greedy people care more about making every last dollar than they do about building a sustainable, long-term business with deep roots.