Rams’ departure stirs emotion, calls for change by fans, local leaders

As fans offered emotional — and often angry — responses to news of the Rams’ looming departure from St. Louis, elected officials and other area leaders used their platforms to air grievances and call for action following the football team’s decision to move back to Los Angeles.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the city is finished dealing with the NFL, which now has seen two of its franchises flee St. Louis in less than three decades following the relocation of the football Cardinals to Arizona before the 1988 season.

Slay said St. Louis’ experience with the Rams should serve as a warning to other cities in their dealings with the NFL. He said the league was “not being truthful” and said St. Louis was “led on” in its efforts to keep the team, which included more than a year of planning for a $1.1 billion riverfront stadium that local officials hoped would become the Rams’ new home.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said she is drafting a bill to recoup public money given to professional sports teams that move to new cities. She said Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is interested in cosponsoring the bill.

Much of the ire from fans and local leaders was directed at Rams owner Stan Kroenke, a billionaire with Missouri roots who will move his team to a $1.9 billion facility in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest metropolitan area.

“What I would say is I understand the emotional side,” Kroenke said. “I have a responsibility also to take care of the organization and a responsibility to my 31 other partners to have a first class facility. Because it’s where they play too.”

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Public Radio

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