NFC West: Field of Schemes

The latest turn in the St. Louis Rams' push for an improved stadium situation shortened the existing Edward Jones Dome lease by a decade to 2015. The team is now freer to leave town following the 2014 season, a subject brought to the table Tuesday during my weekly conversation with 101ESPN St. Louis.

I think the Rams are probably more likely to secure a new stadium in St. Louis than to leave town. The team appears to be building equity with fans following a disastrous five-year run featuring a 15-65 record from 2007 through 2011. There isn't a new stadium awaiting the Rams in Los Angeles, which remains a frequently mentioned and overrated suitor.

Neil deMause, who criticizes professional teams' stadium leverage tactics on his "Field of Schemes" blog, summed up the situation in part as an opportunity for St. Louis to test Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

"The NFL is the toughest league for cities to exert leverage with, since media market size doesn't matter nearly so much as a lucrative stadium deal," deMause writes. "That’s how St. Louis ended up grabbing the Rams from much-larger Los Angeles in the first place. But with few other cities even potentially offering new stadiums at the moment, and with Kroenke a local boy, this seems like an opportune time to test exactly how much leverage St. Louis has here."

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