St. Louis Rams fans express opinions during NFL focus groups

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) Some fans of the St. Louis Rams say they want the football team to remain loyal to the city and not move to Los Angeles.

Several fans expressed support Wednesday during several focus group sessions for a proposed open-air stadium to be built on the riverfront, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1GOQMMZ ) reported.

Many of the participants, who are either past or current season-ticket holders, said they are willing to purchase permanent seat licenses.

”I think the general consensus of the people there was yeah, if the Rams make a commitment to stay, they’re willing to pay for the PSLs,” said Dave Watson, a group member from Maryland Heights. ”Some of these people were willing to write checks for PSLs today.”

Each of the five sessions, conducted by the NFL in Maplewood, included 15-20 fans and were watched through a one-way window by the Rams’ executive vice president.

The focus groups are a part of the second phase of a market assessment by the NFL in St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego. An NFL owners committee has been having discussions about moving a team to Los Angeles. The Rams, along with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, are front-runners to be chosen by NFL owners for the move in 2016.

In January, Gov. Jay Nixon and a two-member taskforce presented plans for the open-air stadium two weeks after Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced that he would build a $1.8 billion stadium at the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack. Nixon’s proposed new stadium would replace the Rams’ current home at the Edwards Jones Dome.

Some of the focus group participants talked about their frustration with Kroenke and his willingness to move.

”Could the owner throw us a bone? Could the owner at least say something? Could the owner get (emotionally) invested in the city? If you invest in this town even a little bit – we’re so hungry,” group member Kip Starnes said. ”… He’s speaking with his money and his actions developing in another city.”

The focus groups were moderated by Texas-based CSL International, which previously emailed almost 200,000 surveys to Rams season-ticket holders and potential Rams fans several weeks ago.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com