RAMS EXTRAS

Group formed to keep Rams in St. Louis comes full circle

2014-04-03T14:15:00Z 2014-08-13T07:53:56Z Group formed to keep Rams in St. Louis comes full circleBy Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

In the early 1990s, a group known as Save the Rams unsuccessfully fought to keep the Los Angeles Rams from leaving southern California.

Twenty years later it has come to this: A fan group known as Keep the Rams in St. Louis has formed. On Saturday from noon till about 5 p.m., it will hold its first event — a fan rally in Laclede’s Landing.

“Especially after Stan Kroenke bought that land in LA, we decided that maybe we need to have our voices heard with the Rams’ brass, with the city government, the CVC, the state government — and just let them know that we want them to do everything they possibly can to keep the team here,” said Gary Weed, one of the group’s unofficial spokesmen.

The Rams are less than a year away from becoming franchise free agents — free to break their stadium lease without any penalty from the powers that be in St. Louis.

The most likely scenario is that the Rams will continue playing on a year-to-year lease at the Edward Jones Dome while the team and civic/government leaders continue to work on the stadium.

While optimistic, the Keep the Rams in St. Louis group is taking nothing for granted.

“I believe in my heart, they’re gonna get this done,” said Weed, who attends several Rams games each season. “Kroenke’s a Midwest guy. He’s not an LA guy. So I really think in my heart of hearts that they will get this done at some point. That after three, four years on a year-to-year lease they’ll have an agreement for a new stadium.”

Weed, who lives in north St. Louis County and works for a local radio station, has a unique perspective on the Rams. He grew up an LA Rams fan in southern California. His parents were season-ticket holders. He was living in the Midwest when the Rams left for St. Louis and said, “I was sad when they left.”

He doesn’t want to experience a case of Rams relocation déjà vu.

“We’re gonna do this (rally),” Weed said. “We’re gonna see what happens. We’re starting basically from scratch. A lot of people have put a lot of their heart and soul into this.

“We want to do this and have it lead to more things. We’re working on becoming an official booster club type of thing as the Rams stay here longer. But obviously, we’re starting from the bottom.”

The group itself began with discussion on Facebook.

“Everyone was kind of going back and forth — a little turf war thing with the LA folks,” Weed said. “They had their own little Facebook page, too. It was bring back the Los Angeles Rams.”

One thing led to another, and the St. Louis group decided to hold a public rally, with the blessing of the Laclede’s Landing Merchants Association. Organizers have had mixed results in preparing for Saturday. There will be several bands playing throughout the afternoon on an outdoor stage area of the Landing where the annual blues festival has been held.

There will be a 50-50 raffle, with proceeds going to a charity — most likely a Rams charity according to Weed. But the group has been unsuccessful getting former Rams players to speak at the event.

“We kind of struck out there,” said Jill Bauer of Columbia, Ill., another of the group’s organizers. “Timing maybe is a factor, but we just couldn’t get any (former) players.”

The team is aware of the rally, but for obvious reasons isn’t connected to the event.

Bauer has been a season-ticket holder since 1995, the team’s first season in St. Louis.

“I think I’ve only missed maybe three games,” she said. “One was my mom’s heart attack; one was I was less than a week away from having my second baby; and the third was we had planned a vacation in Mexico.”

Three pretty good reasons.

“I love ’em,” she said of the Rams. “I just hope they stay. I don’t want the Rams to think people want them to leave. And I want the city to know that people definitely value the team.

“The bottom line is the rally gives a bunch of Rams fans a chance to get together in kind of a party atmosphere, show your colors, and let the city and the Rams know that they have our full support. And why wait till something is announced? That’s the other piece of it.”

The weather forecast looks favorable for Saturday, with a high of 57 degrees, partly cloudy skies, and zero chance of precipitation. Even so, organizers have no idea what to expect in terms of a crowd. What if, say, only 50 people show up?

“If we only get 50 people, that’s 50 more people than knew about it previously,” Weed said.

Ram-blings

The “top 30” pre-draft visits continued Wednesday with offensive tackles Greg Robinson of Auburn and Taylor Lewan at Rams Park.

General manager Les Snead and defensive line coach Mike Waufle were part of the Rams contingent taking in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s pro day at South Carolina. Clowney told reporters afterwards that he had both a top 30 visit and a private workout scheduled with the Rams.

New Rams CB Greg Reid remained in Lowndes County (Ga.) Jail Wednesday, with no bond set after his weekend arrest for probation violation.

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