NFL Wire News

Apathy echoes amid relocation talks in St. Louis


The Sports Xchange

ST. LOUIS — The Show Me State sent a clear message Sunday, when scores of empty seats outnumbered fans for a game that could be the final season-opening game for the St. Louis Rams in this city.

Legions of those fans wore enemy colors, with the well-traveling “12s” at the Edward Jones Dome outnumbering “Rams Nation” by a conservative 1.5-to-1 estimate.

As one of three teams considering relocating to Los Angeles as early as next season, the franchise is in limbo. Options include constructing a new stadium near the existing dome and convention center site or packing the entire team to head west, where owner Stan Kroenke is ready to break ground on a new venue in Inglewood.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher downplayed the significance of playing before a smaller home crowd this week, even when facing the division rival known around the NFL for its boisterous following and healthy home-field edge.

The Rams announced a “tickets distributed” attendance of 51,792. In the Greatest Show on Turf days 14 years ago, the crowds hit 66,000, even when the Seahawks weren’t in town. The fans who did show up were thanked by quarterback Nick Foles and linebacker James Laurinaitis for making their presence felt.

“They were loud, they were rambunctious,” Rams guard Jamon Brown said. “You saw they got a couple false starts; the (fans) were great.”

In Oakland, the Raiders played what could be their final home opener at the fabled “Black Hole” known widely as o.Co Coliseum. David Johnson attended Sunday’s game in a Howie Long No. 75 jersey with his son, Ryan, and said even though they live in Riverside, Calif., and would be closer to the Carson site where the Raiders and San Diego Chargers could relocate, he wants the team to stay put.

Johnson said he went to school with Mark Davis, who took over as team owner when his father Al Davis died.

“We don’t want them to come down there because they belong in Oakland, and that’s the story,” David Johnson said two hours before kickoff on Sunday. “There’s no place like Oakland for the Raiders. Never has been. I was down there when they were in L.A., went to a lot of games down there. It just wasn’t the same. They won their last Super Bowl basically out of there. It still wasn’t the same.”

The Chargers missed a deadline last week to reach agreement on a new stadium deal in San Diego. The city claims it will cost any potential Chargers stadium construction bid a chance to be on the November ballot.

Dennis Lordan of Walnut Creek, Calif., said he’s hopeful the Raiders can stand on their own in Oakland but painted Kroenke as the villain thousands of miles away.

“I really firmly believe he’s going to move to L.A., hell or high water, because, A, he’s got the money. He’s got the land already and he’s ready to go,” Lordan said of Kroenke’s land purchase and advanced development plan in Inglewood.

“If they bring a second tenant in, right now I believe the San Diego Chargers are going to be the second tenant with them. That’s what I think. That could change. I’m hoping that happens, then the Raiders are here. And they’ll sometime, somehow, some way work something out. That is my hope.”

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