The St. Louis Rams may have played in Missouri, but Illinois politicians have their own opinions about the team's departure for Los Angeles. State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) says the announcement the franchise was heading back to L.A. didn't come as a surprise, but he thinks Rams owner Stan Kroenke could've given other reasons to justify the move rather than complaining the region wasn't supporting the team.
"The TV market in L.A. is far beyond what St. Louis could bring," Haine said. "If he had been just upfront with that, I think people might have accepted it, however painful it is."
Haine guesses many fans in the Metro East may change their allegiance to other NFL franchises, like the Chicago Bears or the Green Bay Packers, now that the Rams are leaving, as he doesn't expect St. Louis will be able to land another franchise.
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State Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) doesn't represent any part of the St. Louis metropolitan region, but he did spend seven seasons in the NFL. He had personally hoped his former team, the Oakland Raiders, had been allowed to move to L.A., but hopes the Rams can avoid the same problems which led them to move to St. Louis after the 1994 NFL season.
"Hopefully there they can make it work," Harris said. "They moved to St. Louis because of revenue issues with trying to fill the stadium, but hopefully, they've learned from their past mistakes, and hopefully it can be successful this time."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is a Bears fan, but says he's upset that the Rams left St. Louis and Missouri with more than $100 million in debt left from bonds used to finance construction of its home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome.
"The taxpayers pay for the stadiums, and the owners stick around as long as they're making big money until they find a green pasture, and off they go. In this case, it was Los Angeles," Durbin said.
None of that debt, nor the proposed bonds which would've paid for a new Rams stadium, was ever the responsibility of Illinois taxpayers.
Haine says there had been discussions in the past about having a St. Louis team play on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, namely in 2002, when the St. Louis Cardinals wanted a new stadium. No such move was ever discussed with the Rams, according to Haine.