Below is the text of a letter I sent to Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Kroenke Sports Enterprises headquarters in Denver on Wednesday evening, one day after Mr. Kroenke and the NFL announced their plans to relocate the Rams to Los Angeles.
Dear Mr. Kroenke:
As an unintended but extremely proud voice for many (formerly) St. Louis Rams fans that show they love St. Louis with actions as well as words, I thought it appropriate to jot down a few items in response to your press release announcing the transfer of the franchise to Los Angeles.
First of all, as a person whose profession is in the media, I took it personally when you wrote “While there understandably has been emotionally charged commentary regarding our motives and intentions, the speculation is not true and unfounded.” There’s no speculation here. The FACT is that you’re moving to make more money, right?
An NFL team can’t lose money in todays or any foreseeable climate, and you took a franchise that St. Louisans were extremely passionate about away from them. I find it notable that you discovered AFTER you moved the franchise that an important emotional connection exists between the fans and the team, and that we do become emotionally charged. That was clearly something you never fostered once you took over here. Perhaps that knowledge will benefit you with your new fan base.
Secondly, you claim to love St. Louis. The release said “I am a Missouri native named after two St. Louis sports legends who I was fortunate enough to know on a personal level. This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will. No matter what anyone says, that will never change.” Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see your actions those of someone with love in their heart. Your lack of engagement with not just Rams fans, but the entire community, didn’t make us feel loved. Your silence made us feel threatened, not loved. The lack of feeling that you were “with us”, buying in emotionally, didn’t make us feel loved. And certainly, your cruel, scathing, mean-spirited evisceration of our region and we as fans in your relocation application didn’t make us feel loved. If you love St. Louis, we don’t feel it.
I also find it important to respond to your distasteful use of Stan Musial’s name in your release. Stan Musial LOVED St. Louis. He and my mentor, Jack Buck are our most treasured residents ever. And we loved Stan. He would have cringed at your behavior, and been insulted that you used his name in such a comparison. I knew Mr. Musial, too. He was aghast when the football Cardinals left for Phoenix. Trust me, he would NOT have approved of your conduct in injuring his town.
I bought PSL’s from you in 1995, Mr. Kroenke. Section 414, row HH, seats 9-10. We’ve upgraded since then. I purchased in large part because I wanted to introduce my then nine-month old son to football. As the football Cardinals were a bonding experience for my father and I, I wanted the Rams to be the same for us, and I wanted to lock in for at least 30 years. As you might imagine, when a 21 year old loses, for no good reason, one of his favorite things in life, he’s going to be upset. Now a senior at SLU, he’s distracted and shattered, as is his 18 year old sister, who joined us in our fandom. I’ve heard from hundreds of people today. Your actions, and yours alone, have devastated them emotionally. Parents with kids from ages 4-15 who had developed a bond with players are wondering why this man they don’t know took those players away. Not an act of love.
Look, we aren’t stupid. We understand your motivation, and we didn’t really need to hear excuses. There’s only one person that precipitated this ripping part of the fabric out of a fantastic community. Not the CVC. Not the RSA. Not the task force. It’s you. Talk all you want about negotiating in good faith, but at the end of the day you ARE spending $2 billion to build on your own in L.A., when you could have spent half of that and made a ton of money in St. Louis from people who have been supporting your ventures for years. Let’s not be disingenuous. You wanted more money there, and whatever we did was going to fall short.
I admire what you’ve done as a businessman. It’s incredible. The good you could have brought to the community you profess to love could have been on a level with Gussie Busch, another St. Louis patriarch who truly loved our town. Alas, your unquenchable thirst for more, more, more removed that chance for love. In the process, you have wounded a community like nobody ever has. We are heartbroken.
I’m sure LA will be great, and you’ll make a lot of money and believe you’ll have a lot of friends. But you will miss out on the amazing, true, Midwestern love I am so lucky to feel every day from so many people that I love back. And for that, I’m sorry for you.
Good luck in your future.