"U.S. Football Fans Urge CFL to Play in St. Louis"
Heartbroken fans have turned to the CFL with the hope they could still have a team in St. Louis after the NFL Rams moved to Los Angeles.
St. Louis has been a NFL-free market for just over a month now, but some Rams fans aren’t letting their team head west to L.A. easily.
The organization is facing a trio of lawsuits from fans, with one seeking reimbursement for merchandise sold between 2000 and 2015 under Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act. A second suit pertains to St. Louis season ticket holders laying claim to Rams seats, regardless of where the team plays, through 2025. A third suit has a fan seeking a refund on the portion of his personal seat license that he can’t use, with the team moving away. The fan had committed money to seats into 2024.
Then there are the people that just want to continue watching football in their hometown. A small contingent of heartbroken fans has turned (in varying degrees of seriousness) to the CFL with the hope that they could still have a team to cheer on at the now empty Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams played for the last 20 years.
There have been emails of varying lengths sent to the league’s head office that detail St. Louis’ love of all things Canadian, like hockey, lacrosse and Tim Horton’s. St. Louis fans have tweeted their frustration with Rams owner Stan Kroenke and at the same time have said that there is a football market left empty at the moment, waiting to be tapped.
“I can confirm that the CFL has indeed received several emails and a substantial amount of messages on social media — mainly Twitter — from Rams fans asking for us to consider expansion south of the border, and specifically into the city of St. Louis,” Paulo Senra, the CFL’s director of communications said over email.
There seems to be knowledge from the St. Louis-based fans on the CFL’s failed foray into U.S. expansion in the 1990s. The league put seven teams into the mix between 1993 and 1995. The Baltimore team — known briefly as the Baltimore CFL Colts — was formed in 1994, arriving just after a failed NFL expansion bid to replace the original Colts that called Baltimore home from 1953 to 1983.
The CFL team was widely watched in Baltimore, averaging better than 30,000 fans in each of its two years of existence before the Cleveland Browns relocated to the city in 1996. The team moved to Montreal that year and exists as the Alouettes today.
While he understands where the St. Louis fans are coming from, Senra said that U.S. expansion is not a priority for the CFL today.
“The desire for more of our game isn’t really a surprise because we know that the CFL has a substantial following from fans in the USA — and our partners at ESPN are doing a great job showcasing our league, teams and players on TV,” he said.
“Our priority however, remains growing our game on TV and online for fans here in Canada and around the world.
“To fans in St. Louis, I would say this: our 2016 season begins in late June — watch us on ESPN, visit our teams online, and with the current exchange rate I would even recommend coming to visit us at our stadiums. We’d be happy to welcome you!”