And the latest in the St. Louis Rams rumor mill: Rams owner Stan Kroenke is now refusing to talk to St. Louis city officials about stadium plans there.
City leaders are hedging their bets, saying the plan now is to work directly with the NFL, not the Rams. The change in philosophy is due in part to the fact that Kroenke won’t take calls from Mayor Francis Slay or other city leaders, said Maggie Crane, Slay’s spokeswoman.
“He hasn’t responded, he hasn’t called back, he hasn’t done anything,” Crane said of Kroenke.
“After a while, you sort of get the hint,” said Jeff Rainford, the mayor’s chief of staff.
Now, it’s actually the governor’s office that has taken the lead on the stadium plan, so don’t get too excited just yet. Though it is fun to speculate whether Kroenke is stonewalling St. Louis officials because he has one foot out the door already, or because he figures it’s the best way to make them think he has one foot out the door already, the better to plead with him to take their money. Isn’t brinkmanship fun?
The most interesting bit here, really, is the hint that St. Louis will now be taking its case directly to the NFL, which could mean a couple of different things. Either:
- St. Louis officials are hoping that the league will tell Kroenke, “Shut up and sit down, we’re not going to let you pass up public funding to go off on some crazy privately funded stadium goose chase.” (Unlikely, but possible.)
- St. Louis officials are hoping to lay the groundwork for the NFL to give them a new team, expansion or otherwise, if the Rams leave. (Hey, it worked before! At insane public cost, but still!)
Kroenke is already reportedly either ready to defy the NFL’s veto of any move of his team, and/or working together with approving league officials on his plan — it’s entirely possible that both are true, given that the league office may be thinking one thing and the individual owners who may have to vote on a relocation may be thinking another. Or neither could be true! This has all the makings of a multilateral battle at least as convoluted and entertaining as the Sacramento Kings saga of 2013. So long as you’re not a Rams fan, or a Missouri taxpayer facing the price tag Kroenke is asking for in order to stay put, or a sports fans or taxpayer anywhere concerned about the implications that this situation will have on future relocation plans and stadium funding battles, it should all be great fun.