While our town’s football team didn’t exactly put its best foot forward on Sunday, our town did on Sunday night at the inaugural Salute to Greatness put on by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Several hundred St. Louisans had the chance to rub shoulders with a galaxy of NFL stars, and then play golf with those Hall of Famers on a perfect Monday at Old Warson Country Club.
If the NFL needs to know if corporate St. Louis will support the league, it should take note of the corporate clout that assembled to support the event.
Local corporate stalwarts Centene and Edward Jones stepped up as the Title and Champion sponsors, respectively, with 101 ESPN, Schnucks, Maritz, Lumiere, AT&T and Grey Eagle Distributors, among others (including the St. Louis Rams), funding the event that benefits the Hall of Fame and their local charity, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
In addition to the people who paid the freight, more than a dozen Hall of Famers and the Hall’s president got the chance to see firsthand St. Louis’ commitment to pro football.
Hall of Fame President David Baker was joined by Derrick Brooks of the Buccaneers, Eric Dickerson, Jackie Slater, Jack Youngblood and Tom Mack of the Los Angeles Rams, Chris Doleman, John Randle and Randall McDaniel of the Vikings, Floyd Little of the Broncos, Jan Stenerud of the Chiefs, Dave Wilcox of the 49ers, Kellen Winslow of Mizzou and the Chargers, Roger Wehrli and Jackie Smith of the St. Louis football Cardinals and Aeneas Williams of the Rams. They were all participants who got a chance to see St. Louis’ love for the sport.
Of course, the man who spearheaded the movement is Dave Peacock, the chairman of the Sports Commission and co-leader of Governor Nixon’s stadium task force. Peacock is also on the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees, and those ties make him the ideal person to sell those that don’t know better on the virtues of St. Louis as an NFL city.
And as far as his stadium vision is going, it’s moving forward.
While the league has retracted its invitation to the task force to show off their stadium project to the owners in New York next month, Peacock and his group are taking advantage of a quiet period to fine tune their plan.
Land acquisition is nearly complete for the actual footprint of the stadium. Financing on the state level is going to be available, while Peacock and his group are lobbying the city’s board of aldermen for city funding of a portion of the financing. And of course, there’s always lobbying of the NFL so that they know what’s happening.
Now when Peacock talks to league officials and owners, he can use the evidence of St. Louis’ desire to spend money to support the NFL.
This is a great sports town with a great history of supporting teams, and there’s no reason to believe that history can’t be carried into the future.
With even a mediocre product, the Rams would draw very well. With eleven straight non-winning seasons that included the worst five year run in league history…and the threat of relocation…52,000 people bought tickets to the Rams opener. Would the Rams make a ton of money by staying here in a new stadium with an average product? There’s no doubt.
Will St. Louis corporations come through to support the NFL? The proof is in the pudding. We saw it happen with the St. Louis Salute to Greatness at Old Warson.