Finding a new camp ground

You've got to put down your brackets and look pretty hard to find much going on in the football world lately. The free agent market has died down and teams are retreating to their war rooms to chart out a strategy for the draft.

When I first read the news that the Rams will move their training camp this summer, I didn't really think much of it. Is it really that big of a deal?

I understand the point that proximity to other teams has the potential to improve the way the Rams practice and get ready for the regular season. I even get the sense from the PD article that another year of ugly preseason losses won't be viewed favorably by the powers that be. I can only imagine the reaction from what's left of the fans. If they really think that moving training camp is going to make the Rams a better football team, then by all means go for it.

Mostly I wondered about the move from a marketing perspective. (guess what my background is?) Will empty fields at Rams Park leave fans feeling abandoned? Somehow, I kind of doubt it. But with the talk of a move to Wisconsin, I wonder if the team's not missing an opportunity to expand their footprint outside of the Metro area. I live in Springfield and grew up at the Lake of the Ozarks, two fairly populous areas of the state outside of STL and KC. In either place, you're never more than a few feet away from a Chiefs flag or bumper sticker or jersey. The restaurants and bars advertise Chiefs games on big vinyl banners. The rest hold the Rams in approximately the same regard as the Blues, acknowledged so as not to miss them. I'm not as familiar with the situation in IL, but I can't imagine the Rams garnering too much appeal outside of the Metro area with fans also having the Bears or the next door Colts to root for.  

I can't help but wonder if there's at least some opportunity for the Rams to grow their fan base and expand their footprint by holding training camp at a location like Missouri State in Springfield, MO. Obviously, since I live here and am a Rams fan, I would love to see the team here each summer. But even if I lived in North Platte, Nebraska, I'd still make the same case.

Now, in terms of the media market it might not make all that much of a difference, i.e. there's a lot more economic muscle for an audience concentrated in the Metro area than there is for an outstate fanbase. And with a national TV contract, NFL teams don't have to depend on the regional media to the same extent the Cardinals or Blues do. However, a season ticket buyer's a season ticket buyer. My father-in-law gets Chiefs season tickets (I still love him anyway) and treks up to KC, which takes a lot longer to drive to than STL, for each home game. Thus, if the price is right for such a move, I'd think it would only be to the Rams advantage.

Of course, winning will bring in fans better than anything, so ultimately that factors heaviest in the decision of where to move training camp...and whether or not fans support such a move.

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