Subscribe for 99¢

A sign spotted during the Blues’ Stanley Cup championship parade made me smile.

“Stanley Cup > Stanley Kroenke!”

A question that came days later made me pause.

I was asked when I would stop finding reasons to bring up Enos Stanley Kroenke.

Fair question.

Perhaps I have been guilty of going to the Kroenke well too many times, of looking — hard — for reasons to write critically about the owner who ripped the Rams out of St. Louis and set his flamethrower to scorched-earth as he departed.

Some want to know why St. Louis is still mad, still suing the Rams and the NFL, still pursuing the personal seat license money that is owed, still connecting current events — like the Blues winning the Cup, for example — to the Rams returning to California.

Why don’t we just move on?

Sure, the relocation of the Rams was a long con greased by lies from the team and the league. But that is standard operating procedure from The Shield. St. Louis made its own mistakes by leaving open loopholes that could be exploited by an owner who wanted out. We went from becoming the Rams’ greener pasture to seeing them leave for one. Some see justice served, and there’s more truth to that than most like to admit.

The problem with this synopsis of the outcome is that it overlooks both the play-by-play and the parting blow. On their way out, Kroenke and the Rams painted an inaccurate and disparaging image of our sports scene. It was untrue and unnecessary. They told the world we were a declining sports market. Screamed it from the 29-page relocation application with lines that landed like repeated cheap shots after the bell:

• St. Louis is a market that will in all likelihood be unable to sustain three professional sports teams.

• The market lacks a robust regional area from which to draw individuals and corporations that are not already attending games and purchasing tickets.

• Compared to all other U.S. cities, St. Louis is struggling.

St. Louis has its problems. No disagreement there. But the suggestion that this region’s appetite for sports is anything other than ferocious is a farce.

That was the case in 2016, when the Rams tried to conjure up falsehoods to disguise a bad product that purposefully alienated fans. It is the case now, when the past year has debunked Kroenke’s false claims. That’s why I’m bringing up Enos today. Not to criticize him. To applaud the sports scene he criticized.

We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club, a golf tournament that turned West County into a party. An estimated 550 million TV viewers across the world saw a course flooded with fans who were praised by players for their passion and enthusiasm. Before the event, golf experts questioned everything from the course to the climate. After it? A standing ovation, led by runner-up Tiger Woods.

“You just don’t see that kind of atmosphere in golf,” Golf Channel’s Mark Rolfing told the Sports Business Daily. “The place was rocking. It was maybe the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen.” The only struggle came as the golf world rushed to reshape its view of St. Louis.

Saturday marks the second week since the Blues’ championship parade boggled the brains of professionals who specialize in estimating crowd sizes. You all lined the streets and covered every open inch beneath the Arch. I saw fans watching from the top of parking garages, fans peering down from traffic light poles, fans who drove hours to simply say they came. A smattering of citations for the over-served became the most negative headline to come out of the crush of blue-clad humanity. It was exactly what a parade should be.

One week later, Albert Pujols returned to Busch Stadium to sold-out crowds and standing ovations. It didn’t matter that he played for the Angels. Just as it didn’t matter that the Blues were on the road during the sold-out watch parties at Enterprise Center in the Stanley Cup Final run. The same baseball team that gave Kroenke an inferiority complex opened its stadium doors to host a hockey watch party at the ballpark, then invited the Blues and their Cup to a game to celebrate. The crowds have been robust.

In the near future, the ownership group attempting to secure an MLS franchise will meet with the league’s expansion committee. It will present an impressive list of corporate sponsors that are willing to step up if a team is awarded. It will remind the league that fans who are clamoring for an MLS franchise have helped raise more than $115,000 for youth soccer programs in the city, thanks to the sale of hats and scarves. Seriously. The ownership group’s idea to sell gear, match the money raised with a donation from the Enterprise Foundation, and then find deserving soccer-specific programs has already helped the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club and others.

A third professional sports team sure seems to be on its way, ready to take advantage of what the Rams left behind.

When it comes to sports, our grass is plenty green. Just read the signs.

Cardinals Update e-newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.