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St. Louis More An Island Than I Thought

I often find myself arguing that St. Louis isn’t so different from the rest of the country, other regions encounter the same problems we face. But then I see data that shows we are different in one respect.

ABOVE: Click image to view website documenting the research that led to the map

Here in the St. Louis region and surrounding area we call soft drinks “soda” while those to the north say “pop” and to the south “coke”. The data from this map is from 2003 so it’s possible our region’s term for a soft drink it part of a larger area, but my guess is we are still a “soda” island.

 – Steve Patterson


One Less Home Game In St. Louis For The Next Three Years

It’s still unknown if the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise will agree to the final ten years of the existing thirty year lease but we do know they will play one home game each of the next three years in London:

ABOVE: The Edward Jones Dome

The St. Louis Rams took the first step to becoming Britain’s “home” team Friday, agreeing to play a regular-season NFL game in London in each of the next three seasons.

And first up are the New England Patriots, who are two wins from another Super Bowl title.

The Rams and Patriots meet at Wembley on Oct. 28, about two months after the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. That will be followed by games at Wembley against undetermined opponents in 2013 and 2014.

The Rams are owned by Stan Kroenke, who is also the majority shareholder in the English soccer club Arsenal. The team will give up home games in St. Louis for the three seasons they are in London.

“We’ve seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe,” Kroenke said in a statement. “To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization. (ESPN)

The team only had eight games a year scheduled in St. Louis and now it will be just seven!  So much for the expected revenue. What does the mean about the Rams staying in St. Louis?

In a worst-case lease scenario, the Rams could be free to leave St. Louis following the 2014 season, which also is the year of the last London game. Coincidence? Throw in the fact that Kroenke owns Arsenal soccer club in the English Premier League and owns the stadium they play in. Add to that the fact that the NFL has discussed the possibility of having a franchise based in London. (STLtoday.com)

As the majority shareholder of the Arsenal Football Club (soccer) Stan Kroenke already owns Emirates Stadium (2006) and the NFL wants a London-based franchise. Either the deal is done or Kroenke knows how convince St. louis to build the Rams a shiny new stadium at taxpayer expense.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Should New LGBT Businesses Locate Within The Grove “Gayborhood” or Elsewhere?

One debate often heard in cities is about gayborhoods, or gay village. Let’s start by defining this term which may be new to many of you, from Wikipedia:

A gay village (also known as a gay neighborhood, gay district) is an urban geographic location with generally recognized boundaries where a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people live or frequent. Gay villages often contain a number of gay-oriented establishments, such as gay bars and gay pubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, restaurants, and bookstores.

Such areas may represent a gay-friendly oasis in an otherwise hostile city, or may simply have a high concentration of gay residents and/or businesses. Much as other urbanized groups, some gay men and women have managed to utilize their spaces as a way to reflect gay cultural value and serve the special needs of individuals in relation to society at large.

Typically, today, these neighborhoods can be found in the upscale or trendy parts of town, chosen for aesthetic or historic value, no longer resulting from the sociopolitical ostracization and the constant threat of physical violence from homophobic individuals that originally motivated the homosexual communities to live together for their mutual safety.

However, these neighborhoods are also often found in working-class parts of the city, or in the neglected fringe of a downtown area – communities which may have been upscale historically but became economically depressed and socially disorganized. In these cases, the establishment of a gay community may eventually turn these areas into more expensive neighborhoods, a process known as gentrification – a phenomenon in which gays often play a pioneer role. However, this process does not always work out to the benefit of queer communities, as they often see property values rise so high that they can no longer afford them as high rise condominiums are built and gay bars move out. (Or the only gay establishments that remain are those catering to a more upscale clientele.)

Today’s manifestations of gay “ghettos” bear little resemblance to those of the 1970s.

In St. Louis today the gayborhood is The Grove on Manchester Ave. In the 21+ years I’ve lived in St. Louis the location of the gay village has moved around a bit, although this is the first time in my memory that we’ve had such a concentration in one area. Many feel empowered by such a strong presence and want to continue that direction.

Enter Hamburger Mary’s, a franchise of the small gay-friendly chain that originated in San Francisco.

ABOVE: You can't miss Hamburger Mary's on Olive. Click to view website.

I’ve heard some who are upset Hamburger Mary’s is on Olive in the Midtown Alley area rather than be grouped with other LGBT-friendly establishments in The Grove. For me the location on Olive is more convenient but I see the other side of the argument too.  I want to know your thoughts on the subject so this question is the poll this week. The poll is in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson


The Council Towers Brick Relief Sculpture is Back

Last July I posted about the brick relief sculpture being removed from the Council Towers building in midtown (Brick Relief Sculpture Nearly Removed from Council Towers). Here was the scene in July:

ABOVE: Just one small section remains on the east face of Council Towers, July 2011

The developer has kept his word and rebuilt the artwork.

ABOVE: Brick sculpture is nearly finished, January 2012

The sculpture was designed by artists Saunders Schultz and William Severson.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Think Rams Will Exit Dome Lease

Most of those that participated in the poll last week think the St. Louis Rams NFL team will exit their lease, going to an annual renewal after the 2014 season:

ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome as seen from The Laurel Apartments

Q: The EJ Dome won’t be in the top 25% as required by the lease, will the St. Louis Rams take their out?

  1. Yes, they are outta here 49 [40.16%]
  2. Yes, even if just as a bargaining chip to get a new stadium in St. Louis 38 [31.15%]
  3. No, they will sign and play in the EJ Dome through 2024 22 [18.03%]
  4. Unsure/No Opinion 8 [6.56%]
  5. Other: 5 [4.1%]

Eighteen percent think the Rams will finish the lease of the dome through 2014. Can I interest any of you in buying the Eads Bridge? The five other answers were:

  1. Let’s hope so! No need for football in this town.
  2. Who cares
  3. los angeles
  4. At the end of the day, does it even matter? If they leave, I’ll be fine.
  5. I hope so

In response to #2 above — taxpayers should care! City, county & Missouri tax funds helped fund the dome originally and if we aren’t watching the same thing will happen again. On a related note:

On Wednesday [1/4/12], the governor appointed [Jim] Shrewsbury, a fellow Democrat, to the board that oversees the operation of the Edward Jones Dome. (STLtoday.com)

Shrewsbury was President of the Board of Aldermen.

In other Rams news from last week:

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has made the franchise’s first resolutions of 2012 by firing head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney after a disappointing 2-14 season that finally came to a conclusion on New Years Day. Monday morning, the Rams made an official release that Spagnuolo and Devaney will not be back with the Rams next season. (KMOX)

I don’t care if the Rams stay or go, but if they go I don’t want to experience what I did when I moved here in 1990 — the attitude that we need an NFL team to be a complete city. We’ve got the Cardinals & Blues — we have enough major sports teams.

– Steve Patterson