ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps more important than what took place in the Edward Jones Dome on Thursday night was what happened just a couple of blocks away about 45 minutes before the St. Louis Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs played.
It was there that the St. Louis stadium task force took to a small stage to put on a rally for Rams fans to show their support for their team. With the looming possibility of the Rams moving back to Los Angeles under the guidance of owner Stan Kroenke, stadium task force leaders Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz and St. Louis mayor Francis Slay addressed the crowd with a message of hope for keeping the Rams in St. Louis.
But the message from Peacock and Co. wasn't limited to a basic pep rally. Peacock wanted to drive home a point he's made again and again throughout the process: that it's critically important for fans to show up and support their team this year even with so many questions about its future.
"You’ve got a lot of fans down here tonight to watch St. Louis take on Kansas City," Peacock said. "I think if anything we sometimes forget the fans and the people that are important in this process and we want to celebrate the fans, we want to encourage them to come out, we want to encourage them to come out to the Seattle game. This is our team and the more we fight for it and the more people that come out and fight for it and fight for our city, I think the better off we’re going to be.”
While the task force and Slay did plenty to fire up the fans, Peacock also dropped a little bit of news. He informed the fans that he and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spent Wednesday in New York City at the commissioner's office. While he didn't disclose the nature of those meetings, it's safe to assume he's continuing on the same path that he set when Nixon named him the task force leader in November of 2014.
Peacock and the task force are still aiming to have an actionable financing plan and land acquisition for the proposed north riverfront stadium in place by October's owners meetings in New York. They've managed to clear a pair of legal hurdles so far but haven't yet finalized all of the pieces.
Still, Peacock and his group remain St. Louis' best hope for getting something done.
“We focus on our game just like Jeff Fisher focuses on his game plan and I feel very good about it," Peacock said. "We’ve had a lot of good interactions with the league and with some owners and just people around the league and we feel good."
Inside the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams announced that 37,616 tickets were distributed for the preseason finale. That's not a good number to begin with but there were far fewer in attendance. Many of the fans that did attend were wearing red and rooting for the Chiefs.
Preseason games and attendance don't mean much and the ultimate decision on whether the Rams stay will come down to issues much larger than how many fans are in the seats every week. But having a full stadium would certainly look much better for St. Louis than a half-empty dome every week.
And that's why it's a point Peacock continues to deliver to the fans even if they have plenty of reasons to stay away.
"We feel good about the public support we’re getting and I think the more the public comes out and demonstrates they aren’t going to back down and they aren’t going to let their city shrink, they aren’t going to let assets like this leave their city and they are going to lean in and develop this important part of our city, create the jobs this kind of a project can create and just change the narrative of St. Louis nationally, I think it’s important,” Peacock said.