Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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If the owner of the St. Louis Rams wants to take his team and move to Los Angeles…wants to extort the taxpayers in Missouri…I say let him.  Imagine not what life would be like without NFL football;  but what it would like with a little extra money in your pocket!

Stan Kroenke, the man who was once among the most loved people in all of Missouri (along with another Stan…Stan Musial) is now, perhaps, the most hated.

Kroenke, the man who 20 years ago brought the NFL back to the city of St. Louis and swore to never move it away again…has flipped.  He’s moving the Rams back to Los Angeles.

It’s confusing, controversial, and hard to understand the various arguments, of course.  But what it boils down to is money…and vanity.  Kroenke is a multi-billionaire with a huge ego, and by the way…a close confidante of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, apparently.  Jones publicly called Kroenke a “Godsend” to the NFL this week for his vision and his commitment to see that vision become reality.  By the way, all billionaires say stuff like that.  It’s easy when you have deep pockets.

The city of St. Louis and its fans have another, different take, of course.  Public dollars built the domed stadium that the Rams have played in for the past two decades.  Loyalties have been formed, and there’s a new St. Louis legacy of football names like Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner, and Marshall Faulk.  In the gateway city they’re feeling like Baltimore did when the the Irsays loaded up the trucks and moved the Colts to Indianapolis.  Like Cleveland did when Art Modell took the Browns to Baltimore and called them…the Ravens.

I want to make a couple of simple points.  One, no one really wins when professional sports franchises come to town…or when they leave.

And two, if you’re a fan there’s no such thing as emotion and loyalty trumping financial excess.  It’s called greed.

Phelan_Donegal_sidebar_2015_284x320The proof of this is the fact of the city of St. Louis offering three-quarters of a billion in public funds to help Kroenke build his dream stadium – his vision – in St. Louis.  Motivated by what Jones did in Dallas with his new palace, there had to be something similar, and competitive, to scratch Stan Kroenke’s itch…or he threatened to leave.

“I’ll use my own money to get what I want, and where I want it.  No thanks,”  was his response.  City council, who looked at other priorities like roads, bridges, and public education, said, “Go fish.”

So Kroenke, once the hero, now resides in that wing of the hall of shame…with Bob Irsay and Art Modell.

Fans, of course, feel like the bride left standing at the altar.  “What will we do?”  “This is our team?”  “We’ve been here from the beginning.”  Emotional, but it won’t beat a hand full of aces.  Remember, billions trump loyalty.  In addition to the Rams, Kroenke also owns the Denver Nuggest (NBA) and the Colorado Avalanche (NHL).

But it’s not that hard to say goodbye to pompous, egotistical demagogues when you consider some facts about personal household finance.  This, from a statistical analysis company in New Jersey who recently shared that the average NFL season ticket holder of at least two seats (and who goes by themselves) spends an average of $10,000 a year…seat license, tickets, travel, parking, entertainment, tailgating, and of course, team paraphernalia.  That’s the average, of course…the middle.  Those who are a little above average were in the range of spending a couple thousand more.

Of course, you lose count on these things when you’re having fun.  Who’s ever resisted the temptation of buying a round when you’re part of the pack?  Who can resist the latest authentic jersey design when you’re a true fan?

But equate that kind of emotion with a market (St. Louis) that Kroenke openly said could not afford the NFL, at least on his terms, and think of it terms of pure, sheer logic.  Even if you’re not a season ticket holder, what person with an average per capita income of $27,000 a year, in a city that needs roads, bridges, and schools, can justify giving $500 to the NFL and Stan Kroenke on a given game day?

Sonny_inset0211There are also statistics that show that NFL cities rake in additional tens of millions per year because they have a franchise…the economic windfall to communities in support of hotels, restaurants, and all-too-tough-to-justify argument of community stature.  But what’s the use when the man who owns the team says I don’t need your money, I have my own.  I’m going to Los Angeles.

Look, these aren’t people like you and me…the Kroenkes, Joneses, Modells and Bidwells.  Bill Bidwell was the man who took the football Cardinals out of the St. Louis in the first place and moved them to Arizona.  The reason?  He wanted a better deal.  So even if you’re a football fan at what point does reality dictate a better deal for you, too?

Well, for one…$10,000 in my pocket per annum sounds like a pretty good place to start.  It’s not that hard to say goodbye.

We wish you luck, Stan Kroenke, Godsend of the NFL, according to the prophet, Jerry.

Not that you need it!

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