Today, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon held a conference call for roughly a half hour to discuss his appointment of Dave Peacock, the former president of Anheuser-Busch, and area attorney Bob Blitz to lead the effort in coming up with a plan (read: stadium) to keep the Rams in St. Louis.
A couple notes:
- The group will have a plan to produce before January 28, when the Rams can opt out of their lease with the Edward Jones Dome.
- That leaves only a few weeks before February 15, the deadline for the Rams to notify the NFL if they are planning on moving.
- Nixon didn't share many details because there aren't many details yet. That's what the group is for.
- That includes a lack of details about a possible site, including (among the many floated) the site Bryan Burwell mentioned at the P-D between the Stan Musial Veterans Bridge and the Lumiere Place Casino.
Here was my main takeaway...
Missouri, and St. Louis, are going after the NFL more than the Rams.
Bear mind of the recent La Canfora piece that suggested the Rams and Raiders would both be headed to Los Angeles were it not for the NFL. Note how Nixon framed this point:
Make no mistake about it, St. Louis is an NFL city...Being an NFL city is a matter of civic and state pride and one of international significance. An NFL team in St. Louis sends a clear signal that this city is a worldwide player and sets it in a special class when it comes to a competitive, global marketplace.
"An NFL city." "An NFL team in St. Louis." That's awfully ambivalent about which team could occupy a new city. I liked how Miklasz put it in his recap of the call:
As I have written many times, the NFL would be more lenient in allowing Kroenke to move if inertia set in and no effort was made to solve the long-term stadium issue here. But if this launch leads to a stadium plan being unveiled over the next couple of months — and I'm confident it will — then the NFL is highly unlikely to allow Kroenke to take the Rams elsewhere. This will effectively stop the clock on a move for the 2015 season.
To elaborate: the NFL rules on franchise relocation guidelines prevent an owner from running away with his team just because, well, you know, he feels like doing so....
In other words ... even if the eventual negotiations between the Rams and the stadium task force reach an impasse, then the league will step in and try to help broker a deal....
That's why Nixon's first good-faith step is an important development. As long as Peacock and Blitz and area leaders are working diligently toward a potential stadium resolution, the league can implement the bylaws to block Kroenke from fleeing.
Which is how the state and city get some leverage back. Kroenke an NFL franchise on his books and his land in Los Angeles to wield which give him a ton of clout. St. Louis, and the state, now have something to put on the table that's more than just a PowerPoint deck.
Best believe the NFL notices.