Pro Football is returning to St. Louis when the XFL now owned by former WWE Wrestling and actor Dwayne The Rock Johnson and his partner Dany Garcia, made the announcement Sunday during an event held in Arlington, Texas and streamed live on YouTube. In addition to the St. Louis team, which will play all of its home games at The Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, the eight-time league will feature three teams from the state of Texas: Arlington a suburb of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio along with Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Seattle and Washington D.C.
It was no surprise that the XFL return to St. Louis after the successful 2020 season that was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic that effected much of the world. But before the return in 2020 St. Louis had a very story long and rocky relationship the NFL that started in when the Chicago Cardinals move to St. Louis in 1960. Now during their tenure, the team was known as the “Big Red,” to differentiate the already known Baseball Cardinals. But at one point the team nearly left for Atlanta because of the stadium issues at Sportsman Park but stayed and moved to Busch Stadium to share with the Baseball Cardinals. There were some great moments especially in the 1970’s under Head Coach Don Coryell which saw the team 31-11 from 1974-1976 with two playoffs appearance which ended in a loss against the Vikings in the 1974 NFC Divisional round and in 1975 NFC Divisional round again the Rams. But after the 1977 season which the team finished 7-7, Don Coryell stepdown to become the Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers and some of their key players like Terry Metcalf, Conrad Dobler, left the and the team wasn’t a Super Bowl contender.
After 28 seasons posting no playoff victories with three appearances, the Cardinals move to Arizona. The teams lack of success on the field led to a decrease attendance along with an aging Busch Stadium prompted owner Bill Bidwill to move the team out west after he and local politicians couldn’t come up with a stadium proposal. While the NFL was gone, there were brief moments that Professional Football made its presents when the St Louis Stampede of Arena Football played at the Enterprise Center with it first open in the mid 1990’s winning 17 games and making two playoff appearance which ended in an opening round lose. But in the Spring of 1995 St. Louis Native and Rams owner Georgia Frontiere moved the team after they couldn’t come up with a stadium proposal. The City quickly embrace their new team, The Rams and they rewarded the city with a dramatic Super Bowl 34 victory of the Tennessee Titans 23-16. They would make one more trip to the Super Bowl two years later only to lose to the New England Patriots. The Rams will make several playoff appearances in 2003 and 2004 which would be their last when they lost to the Atlanta Falcons.
Sadly, after the passing of Georgia Frontiere in 2008 the full ownership went to the hands of billionaire Stan Kroenke. In an interview in 2010 Kroenke told a very questionable audience, “I’m going to attempt to do everything I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis.” “There’s a track record,” he said. “I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I’m stepping up one more time.” It is true to some degree that Kroenke as stepped up, but it turned up into ashes like when he became a part of the St. Louis NFL expansion process only to lose out against Jacksonville and Charlotte North Carolina in the early 1990’s. He helped lure the Rams to St Louis in 1995 but behind close doors was trying to bring the team back to Los Angeles when he first started trade marketing the team beginning in 2010 then 4 years later purchase land that would eventually become the new stadium home of the Rams. The City of St. Louis countered Kroenke’s stadium plan with a 65,000 plus stadium only to be rejected by the NFL and Kroenke which allowed him to move the team back to Los Angeles. It would be the second time in less than 30 years that St. Louis would lose an NFL team, but despite the back biting and ugly divorce from past mediocre owners from Bill Bidwill to Stan Kroenke, city still remands a viable candidate to land NFL franchise.
There was a point that the Raiders nearly ended up moving to St. Louis and get rebranded after years in playing in and outdated stadium in Oakland. The Raiders would eventually move to Las Vegas. But what about the Chargers who played in San Diego for 50 years and ended up moving to Los Angeles because they too couldn’t get stadium, yet are struggling as a 2nd tended with the Rams ruling the city? How long will they last in Los Angeles? And what about the Jacksonville Jaguars which is owned by Collinsville Illinois Native Shad Khan? The team currently has the smallest fanbase in the NFL and have struggled with attendance because of their lackluster performance on the field. And to fuel to the fire the Jags play in a stadium which is the same age as Dome of America in St. Louis so dare I say that one of the two teams the Chargers or Jaguars could end up moving to St. Louis? Time will tell but the XFL is gladly willing to place a team in St. Louis because they know the city’s history and the fans love affair of football. It died briefly in 2020 because of Covid-19 but fate had something else in mind and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson along with Dany Garcia saw the success of the League which is why bought for 15 million out of bankruptcy. We don’t know what the future but whether it’s the XFL or NFL St. Louis will Always be a Football City.
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