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Hurricanes may keep the NFL in St. Louis

by Bryce Moore

KMOV.com

Posted on September 3, 2008 at 9:56 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:27 PM

I wonder, could Gustav and any other hurricanes heading for New Orleans now or in the future possibly lead to the Rams being able to stay in St. Louis for the long term?

Let's preface the following by saying our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Gulf Coast as they dodge the punches of Hurricane Gustav.

There are certainly more important things going on right now than the NFL season.

Still I wonder, could Gustav and any other hurricanes heading for New Orleans now or in the future possibly lead to the Rams being able to stay in St. Louis for the long term?

Think about it.

Los Angeles desperately wants an NFL team. The league wants to place a team in the nations second biggest market - ASAP.

The Rams, along with the Jaguars and Vikings, have been considered possibilities. Perhaps the Rams make the most sense, as they played in L.A. for nearly four decades before moving to St. Louis in 1994.

With the passing of Georgia Frontier, her two children now own the Rams, and they haven't showed a lot of interest in football. There have been various internet reports, most notably Yahoo!'s well respected football writer Michael Silver, that say Georgia's son and daughter would like to sell the team.

On the flip side, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has tried to down things right in the Big Easy. But if the hurricanes keep coming, to stay in business, he will have to find a new city for his Saints to play.

Los Angeles would be the natural fit.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King said it best this morning is his column called Monday Morning Quaterback.

"In the long-term, I'll give you the best example of how tough it will be for New Orleans to play on equal footing with the teams it has to beat every year. The Saints' biggest sponsor, a local bank, pays the team $1.2 million a year in exchange for advertising and being the bank of the Saints and other privileges. The Cowboys' local bank sponsor pays the team $12 million a year. After the storms, let's say the population, which was at 485,000 before Katrina and now, pre-Gustav evacuation, is at about 275,000, nosedives again. Will the league and the owner, Tom Benson, who has rededicated himself to making the Saints a cultural hub of the rebuilding city, be so willing to try to make the franchise work in New Orleans again? I doubt it, but that's only if the storm is hugely damaging to the area, on the scale of what Katrina was."

Gustav likely will not be as damaging as Katrina, but two more hurricanes, Hanna and Ike, could be on the way. Benson and the Saints will get tired of having to leave for weeks at a time every summer.

I am not rooting for the Saints to have to leave New Orleans (though it doesn't make a lot of sense to rebuild this city over and over). But the Rams are important to the people and economy of St. Louis, and if the Saints must march somewhere, they may as well head West.

Posted by Michael Bittner, Special Contributor and MU J-School student.

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