When we look at the Buffalo Bills after another disappointing season, the stock answer of, "There's always next year" comes to mind. For St. Louis, whose Rams are on their own 11-year playoff drought, that isn't the case at all.
Stan Kroenke has taken the William Tecumseh Sherman approach to NFL Relocation. Not only has the Rams owner applied to move the team back to Los Angeles, but metaphorically doused the city, the Edward Jones Dome, as well as the largely publicly-backed stadium proposal, in gasoline. In the process, he's handed the matchbook to the NFL owners.
Only 5 years ago, Kroenke gave assurances to St. Louis fans that he would do everything in his power to keep the team in the Gateway City. That was when he was trying to buy-out other investors to gain full ownership of the team. But as of now, that appears to be ancient history.
I bring this up here at Buffalo Football Report for one simple reason: Our own fate. A year and a half ago, we feted Terry and Kim Pegula as saviors of football in Buffalo. They shed tears and gave impassioned assurances that the Bills would stay in Buffalo under their watch. As fans, we got behind the natural gas tycoons because they seemed the best option, especially with a competitive group of bidders interested in moving the team to Toronto.
It's common to theorize how the Pegulas are so wealthy, and that they might be willing to privately fund their own replacement for Ralph Wilson Stadium. If you search Google for net worth, Terry Pegula's is at $3.8 billion. What you might also notice that Kroenke's wealth is at $6.3 billion.
In other words, Kroenke has the money to build his own stadium in St. Louis - if he wanted to do so. Instead, he has property lined up in Inglewood, CA and the support of the City of Los Angeles to build. The only thing he needs now is for NFL owners to approve his $550 million relocation bid. Clearly the market base in LA is exponentially greater than that of St. Louis, thus giving Kroenke millions of reasons to bolt Missouri.
What about the Pegulas and the Bills? It's true that the Pegulas are sinking a lot of money into Buffalo already, with the HarborCenter the centerpiece of that development. But even with that development, it's tough to see St. Louis as a less viable option than Buffalo in terms of population and business. And while Los Angeles is probably off the market as a suitor come next week, Toronto will continue to be an attractive huge market (which isn't that far away from Western New York).
In 2014, the Pegulas position was that the Bills would be staying in Buffalo. Hopefully it remains that way as long as they own the team and beyond. But as long as Toronto remains a viable option for a stadium and team, all you have to do is remember how it has gone down with Kroenke and the city of St. Louis, and realize words and promises aren't worth much in the realm of big sports business.