I was at the First BBQ of Summer listening to a new acquaintance express his frustration with his hometown, Atlanta, which had apparently decided to fund a new football stadium. When I heard this, my first reaction was that the guy must not have his facts right. I was at the Thursday Night Football game last year between the Falcons and Saints and the Georgia Dome wasn't in bad shape at all. In fact, I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that they were replacing the Georgia Dome at all.
So there I was, hungover as all hell sitting in front of my computer the next day when I decided I wanted to fact check the story. That's when I came across the various proposals. One boring, the other Spectacular, my judgement was swift: if we are to assume Arthur Blank will choose one of the two initial designs, my opinion of him as an owner rests upon his decision.
My thoughts initially started and went to rest with this very thought. It wasn't until a recent article, The Stankonia Dome, that my train of thought veered to include the Rams. As of recently, the Edward Jones Dome might have been able to sneak into the "Top Tier" with a serious overhaul, but the more of these designs come out and new stadiums get built, the clearer that impossibility becomes. The separation of the new Top Tier is stark and Stan Kroenke will not be left out.
Some of Arthur Blank's requirements (viability for international soccer tournaments and NCAA) are not exactly uncommon, but they have also been emphasized by Kroenke. Kroenke wants to be able to host Arsenal exhibition matches (or any, I'm sure), possibly World Cup events, to obtain an MLS team, and NCAA events. He is not going to be interested in being placated by nominal "First Tier" status. He already won arbitration and is well on his way to building his new stadium.
This idea brings fear to many Saint Louisans hearts, but I don't know why. The days of cities being strong-armed into shelling out high percentages of stadium costs are over. That's why the NFL helps out owners with extra interest free money. That's why Atlanta has committed only $200 million (the CVC's renovation proposal was already $130 million).
I'm excited to see what is in store for the Ram's new stadium. Just as we have faith in this new managements on-the-field direction, I have faith in the vision that led to the Ram's renovation proposal and what that means for the new, First Tier, StanKroenkia.