St. Louis Rams fans recouped two home games Monday when the team withdrew its commitment to play 2013 and 2014 games in London.
The Rams' 2012 game against New England remains scheduled for Oct. 28 in London.
The Rams are casting their decision as part of their ongoing efforts to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome. Whatever the motivation, the decision is a good one for fans in St. Louis. It's good for the coaching staff and players as well.
Previous talk about the importance of international branding sounded ridiculous for a team with a 15-65 record over the past five seasons.
The Rams need to worry about blocking, not branding. Blocking the Patriots would have been easier in the Edward Jones Dome than abroad, even though the Rams' home-field advantage has waned in recent years.
The Rams released a statement from Kevin Demoff, their chief operating officer, that said, in part, "We believe our attention needs to be on the ongoing First Tier process. We have worked closely with the NFL in coming to this decision and remain key supporters of the international series and its objectives."
It'll be important to find out how the announcement Monday affects arbitration between the team and the local stadium authority over upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome. The move could make the Rams appear more serious about keeping the team in St. Louis. Relocating games strengthened perceptions that owner Stan Kroenke was shopping for other cities -- perhaps even abroad, where he has other interests.
The arbitration process, expected to conclude by year's end, allows the stadium authority to accept or reject the arbitrator's proposal. Accepting the proposal would make the arbitration binding for the Rams. Rejecting it would convert the Rams' lease on a year-to-year basis beginning in March 2015.
Demoff was scheduled to speak with reporters in St. Louis on Monday. I'm at 49ers headquarters and have some interviews to conduct, but will be monitoring this one.