There will be a chicken-and-egg argument when we talk about the St. Louis Rams, attendance, and the NFL leaving the city behind for Los Angeles.
Did the Rams’ attendance drop simply because the people of St. Louis knew Stan Kroenke was going to sell them out for his L.A. dreams? Or did a lack of attention, in an outdated stadium, lead to the move?
If the XFL experiment in St. Louis is any indicator, there are plenty of rabid football fans there. The BattleHawks have been a great story out of the new league, and the fan interest continues to grow.
It has grown to the point that, even after the novelty of the first few weeks has passed, the XFL team has expanded its seating in response to fan demand.
BattleHawks have drawn great crowds
The BattleHawks played in front of a good crowd to start their XFL journey, though the upper deck of The Dome at America's Center was not sold.
A month into the season, that’s changing.
🗣️ ST. LOUIS ... you made yourselves heard!— St. Louis BattleHawks (@XFLBattleHawks) March 4, 2020
We are OFFICIALLY opening up seats in the upper deck of The Dome for our week 7 game vs LA on March 21. 👀
Tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10 AM! 🙌
#RockTheDome x #ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/Pcr1nS0Qey
That’s in response to a very successful two-game stretch to start the season, in which St. Louis recorded two of the three biggest XFL crowds of the inaugural season.
The BattleHawks’ crowd today (27,527) is the third-biggest in the XFL this season. Second-biggest was Seattle last week (29,172) and biggest was STL’s home opener last week (29,554).@xfl2020— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) March 1, 2020
Perhaps St. Louis is simply fine enjoying an XFL team, and that’s that. But if this is a message to the NFL about its viability as a football city, it’s doing pretty well.
NFL taking notice of St. Louis?
Other than the NFL’s odd infatuation with London, there’s no obvious market for the league to use as a negotiating tool when it needs to hold a city hostage for tax dollars for a new stadium. That was Los Angeles’ role in the NFL’s world for many years until the Rams moved there.
San Diego might like to get back in the NFL game, and other markets like Portland and San Antonio always seem to be in the conversation. But St. Louis might be moving to the front of the line if an NFL team ever does relocate, based on the great support for the BattleHawks.
The stadium issue would need to be resolved, and there should be a lot of distrust with the way Kroenke and the NFL handled that in St. Louis. A lot of bad feelings would have to be put aside for the NFL to come back.
But among the many things we’re finding out from the XFL’s maiden journey is that St. Louis is still a football town.
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