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Limbaugh Dropped From Rams Bid

Last week Rush Limbaugh was dropped the group seeking to take over the St. Louis Rams.  Opposition was mounting locally, nationally and even within the NFL.  Here is the poll question, answers and the final tally:

Q: Rush Limbaugh & Dave Checketts have bid on the St. Louis Rams. Reaction?

  • I don’t like Limbaugh and this would make it easier to stay away from the Rams: 77 (30%)
  • I don’t care who owns the team as long as it remains in St. Louis: 63 (24%)
  • I don’t like Limbaugh, used to support the Rams, but will stop if he becomes an owner: 39 (15%)
  • I don’t like Limbaugh but I would continue supporting the Rams: 32 (12%)
  • I like Limbaugh and the Rams, great match: 19 (7%)
  • I don’t have an opinion on Limbaugh buying the Rams: 15 (6%)
  • I like Limbaugh but not the Rams/football: 8 (3%)
  • I like Limbaugh so I might start supporting the Rams: 6 (2%)

What we can take away from these results is most of the readers here are Rams fans, or at least want them to stay in St. Louis. 134 of the 259 votes (52%) showed a positive view toward the Rams/NFL.  Conversely, nearly as many are not really interested in the Rams/NFL.  More of those voting dislike Limbaugh than those that do like him.  With Limbaugh out of the picture the focus shifts back to the region’s willingness to pay up to keep the Edwards Jones Dome among the NFL’s best:

The Rams lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) requires the Edward Jones Dome rank among the top eight stadiums in the 32-team NFL on the Dome’s 20th birthday in 2015. If first-tier status is not met, the Rams lease would switch to year-to-year terms a decade ahead of schedule and the team would have the option to leave St. Louis.  (Source: St. Louis Business Journal, 5/16/08, Edward Jones Dome challenged to measure up)

Renovations to the dome will likely cost more in the coming years than the dome cost to build.  Estimates are in the hundreds of millions.  The hotel room tax doesn’t collect enough to fund the renovations that will be needed.  2015 will be here soon. Can we assume that if Dave Checketts and his partners are successful in buying a controlling interest in the Rams that they wouldn’t move the team out of the region?  Maybe.  Expect to hear much more about this over the next 5-6 years.

The best part is we won’t be hearing from Rush Limbaugh as a team owner.

– Steve Patterson


St. Louis Rams Playing to the Right? (Updated)

You’ve probably all heard the latest Rams news.  From the LA Times on 10/6/09:

It appears conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh wants to be an NFL team owner.

In a statement released today, Limbaugh said he’s partnering with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams. Limbaugh didn’t go into details, but said he and Checketts “have made a bid to buy the Rams and are continuing the process.”

Such a move would most certainly keep the Rams in St. Louis, good news to many.

Would the controversial Limbaugh make fans question their loyalty to the team?  Would the conservative radio host ask for taxpayer help to build a new stadium when the Rams have an out on their current lease at the Edward Jones Dome?    Or would he argue for a free market solution – he and the other owners building their own facility? Would they be happy keeping the team in a politically blue city?

Los Angeles is still without a team, and a loophole in the Rams’ lease allows them to move as early as 2014 if the Edward Jones Dome is not deemed among the top quarter of all NFL stadiums. Though just 14 years old, the dome is fast becoming one of the league’s older venues, and getting it into the top quarter seems unlikely. (Source: AP)

The poll this week, in the right sidebar, asks for your reaction to the possibility of Limbaugh as a Rams owner. Read the answers carefully before answering:

  • I don’t like Limbaugh but I would continue supporting the Rams.
  • I don’t like Limbaugh, used to support the Rams, but will stop if he becomes an owner.
  • I don’t like Limbaugh and this would make it easier to stay away from the Rams.
  • I don’t care who owns the team as long as it remains in St. Louis.
  • I don’t have an opinion on Limbaugh buying the Rams.
  • I like Limbaugh but not the Rams/football.
  • I like Limbaugh so I might start supporting the Rams.
  • I like Limbaugh and the Rams, great match.

I tried to cover all the options with the answers listed above.

The comments to the LA Times story covered all views from left to right:

I hope Rush does but the Ram’s, that will give me another reason to hate them both.

This is interesting, because he will have a team that runs all the time – no passing. He will want to see how many yards his team can Rush each game.

I’ll become a Ram fan…God Bless Rush…The Ram will be a winning team for ever…can’t wait.

We don’t know if the Limbaugh/Checketts bid is for 60% or 100% of the team.  It is important to note they have only recently made their bid known — the sale is not a done deal.  One thing is certain, it will be interesting to watch issues around the Rams ownership and facility.

Update 10/15/09 – Yesterday Rush Limbaugh was dropped from the group seeking to buy the Rams.  News at ESPN.

– Steve Patterson


Where Is Your Third Place?

There is one thing cities provide in much greater abundance than suburbs: the essential “third places” in our lives that provide respite and relaxation for us outside our homes or workplaces.

Third Place
Third places are defined as one of three places that meet fundamental human needs: home, a first place; work, a second place; and a third place, where we go to find community, relaxation, and simply “be” when we aren’t at home or working.

For all the people who work from home offices, the line between the first and second places, home and work space, may have blurred, but it makes the third place even more important. We all need a common place to hang out, see friends, find conversation, or simply watch the world go by. We seek a place that is separate from our homes or workplaces and all their attendant comforts and irritations.

Third places are very individual. In a family of four, there could be four different third places: church, coffeehouse, club or park. They are where you go to get away from your immediate responsibilities and expectations. You don’t have to do housework or laundry; you don’t have to finish that project or spar with your partner. You are (temporarily) free to indulge your own thoughts, talk or not talk, do or not do anything.

In the city of St. Louis there are many good third-places: local coffeehouses like The Hartford, Shaw Coffee or even the London Tea Room. There are neighborhood bars and cafes where they get to know you and you can stay as long as you like. There are libraries, drop-in centers and parks. There are churches and clubs, both social and athletic. There are museums and entertainment districts like The Loop on Delmar or Washington Avenue downtown. And there are intentional places like Left Bank Books with book groups, author readings and community events. These third places are close at hand, across the street or down the block, most of them within walking distance.

The suburbs of St. Louis are trickier, especially in second-ring suburbs. Newer, more affluent suburbs like Chesterfield and Wildwood have been built with more modern sensibilities about community gathering spots and the intentional communities created by mixed-use construction. You may be more likely to hang out at commercially sponsored third places like Starbucks or the mall, but they exist and are well used.

The second-ring suburbs are in a tougher spot. They belong to an earlier time, before we realized how much we would miss the communal third places that are so abundant in the city. Like the outer-ring suburbs, they may have some commercially-sponsored places like Starbucks, McDonalds or Dennys, but there may be only one or two in a municipality and they are rarely within walking distance. There is a real dearth of small, local businesses like independent coffeehouses, casual cafes or bookstores. Which pretty much leaves the bar, gym or possibly church and almost all of them require driving in your car.

There is a misplaced attempt to fulfill this need for third places in the construction of suburban great rooms, finished basements and fully-equipped media rooms, but all of these fall short. A third place requires distance from home and family. It also requires diversity and randomness in the people you might observe or start a conversation with.
When I lived in Seattle, I could easily walk a few blocks to any of six coffeehouses, each with its own ambience and crowd of regulars. There were bookstores with cafes where you could hang out from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. When I lived in the South Grand area, I had my choice of places to hang out.

In Maryland Heights, I’m stumped. I occasionally get in the car and drive to Starbucks at Westport or I go farther afield to Creve Couer or Chesterfield. More and more, I drive farther to Main Street in St. Charles or into the city to find a third place, but none of them are my third place.

City planners take note: vibrant cities or suburbs don’t exist without a multitude of viable third places. And if you want to attract the young, the creative, the socially engaged, that advice is doubly important.

What I’d like to know, especially if you’re a suburbanite, is where is your third place? Where do you regularly go to hang out, read a book, see friends, or just escape home and work responsibilities? What makes a place your third space? I look forward to what you have to say.

-Deborah Moulton


A Tale of Two Existences

Between recent comments here on the blog and the URBANEXUS gathering downtown recently, it has been striking how vehemently people feel about the urban vs. suburban existence. The vitriol is mostly one-sided, the urbanists against the suburbanites. To most suburbanites, there is little passion for that fight because the city is basically irrelevant to them. Suburbanites tend to fall into three main groups: they have lived in the city at one point and subsequently chosen a suburban path; they enjoy visiting city amenities but don’t want to live there; or it never appealed to them. So what lies behind this divide?

If urbanists disdain the suburbs and speak arrogantly toward those who live there, where is the fuel? I would suggest it is, at heart, anger. The suburbs represent everything they hate: sameness, conformity, uniformity, and detachment or entrenchment from the world at large. But aren’t these all illusions? Aren’t they just as conformist to an urban identity and shared disdain for the suburbs? Aren’t both cities and suburbs created landscapes representative of their times? Aren’t as many people isolated and detached from the world in their urban condos and apartments as the folks who inhabit split-levels, ranch houses and huge suburban great rooms? Is one really better than another? Or are they neither better or worse, just different?

I am the most unlikely defender of the suburbs. I have hated them most of my adult life. I grew up in a small town, 100 miles from any large city, and I didn’t really experience city life until after college when I started my career in Peoria, then Chicago. I lived on the Chicago’s north side, in Lincoln Park before it became ultra chic. Then I moved to Seattle in the Queen Anne neighborhood. I spent my vacations in cities visiting friends in New York, LA, San Francisco and Boston. Nothing else appealed to me and I was horrified by friends and relatives as they abandoned the cities for the suburbs. Not me, not ever, I said.

So here I am, in Maryland Heights, and (gasp) I enjoy it. It’s a second-ring suburb so it’s grown-up, it’s mature, it has huge trees and sidewalks. Its houses were built in the peak era of the rise of middle class. Large enough to be comfortable, but small enough to be considered now as modest in comparison to much larger, new suburban homes and mega mansions. The lawns aren’t huge, the neighborhood is extremely walkable for exercise and recreation, and the energy footprint is modest like the houses.

I have a garden and enjoy yard work after years of container gardening on porches and balconies. I have a giant sweet-gum tree in my front yard and love raking leaves. I know my neighbors. My sister and her family live less than a mile away. My mother lives with me. It is easy to get around and run errands, pick up library books, and every night, for the first time in my life, I park my car in an enclosed garage. I no longer have to get up early to scrape the ice from my windows, shovel myself out of street parking, or get soaked in the pouring rain before I’ve ever left home.

Located smack in the middle of I-270, I-70 and Page Avenue, I can get to the airport in under 15 minutes (important when I commuted weekly to Seattle for my job) and there’s almost no place in the metropolitan area that I can’t get to in about 20 minutes or less. I have fresh, locally grown food available at Thies Farm and the many charms of Creve Coeur Park are less than a mile from my house.

My city is small enough that I can easily attend meetings and interact with city government. I know the people who run my city and I can work both with them and in opposition to them to build a better city with a sustainable future. I have easily met others and formed a residents’ group that will continue to educate and inform the political process.

Maryland Heights is also auto-centric, lacks a town center and informal gathering places, and, like every other place on earth, is sometimes boring. So I think it comes down to this: time of life and love. Our decisions about where to live are not abstract concepts. They are practical and they come with a constellation of considerations, many beyond our control, and many of them related to love.

We fall in love with someone who already owns a house in the suburbs or we move to have a vastly shorter commute to our suburban employer. We move to the suburbs of St. Louis because our toddler will soon be in school and we believe in the value of public-school education, but not in the St. Louis city schools. Our parents grow old and need help and comfort in their old age. They move in with us, into a single-story ranch house with an attached garage, and easy access to medical facilities and grocery stores. We can simply be ready for a change of pace: ready to garden in our own yard, to participate in civic activities, and take care of our extended families while we still have them.

Time is precious. I wouldn’t trade my 25 years as a fervent urbanist for anything. It was the absolute right thing for me. I have come to love my life in the suburbs in service to those I hold most dear. There will be other chapters in my life and I will, doubtless, live other places, including the heart of a great city.

I wish I had been more thoughtful, and less shrill, about my choices when I was younger. I wish I could have been more confident in my own choices without thinking everyone had to feel the same way. I wish I had known more about the value of family ties and the difference between sacrifice and a loving sacrifice. I wish I had been kinder to my friends who married and left for the suburbs.

One of the great gifts of age is a truer appreciation of diversity and how we all make choices for love. My neighborhood is as integrated as my neighborhood in the city, maybe more so, because of all the nationalities that live near me. But it isn’t race that makes us diverse, it’s all the stories of how they came to be here, the choices they made for love, and why this is only one chapter of a long and varied life.

-Deborah Moulton


Pro Sports Teams in St. Louis

St. Louis has a long history with professional sports teams, but, except for the Blues and the Cardinals, there’s also been a lot of changes over the years. The Browns, the Hawks and the football Cardinals have all left town. We invested heavily to get the Rams. We were once the epicenter for professional wrestling, and we currently support, among other sports, roller derby (ArchRivalRollerGirls.com).

Supporters of pro sports view them as being critical to a major city’s identity and for attracting new businesses. This is backed up with public investments like those in the Jones Dome, Busch III and Scottrade Center. But there are always groups advocating for more and different. One thing St. Louis lacks, in the traditional sense, is a pro basketball team. The Hawks were here from 1955 to 1968, but they were sold and moved to Atlanta. There are also “newer” pro sports leagues that are growing around the country, in sports that appeal more to the younger generations, sports like soccer and lacrosse.

With some regularity, we’ll see proposals, many times in Illinois, to build a new pro sports facility to support one of these new leagues. The Rams continue to make noises about the need to improve or replace the Jones Dome.  We just had a successful weekend of bike racing and the possibility of bringing the Olympics back to St. Louis is always a remote one.  There are those of us who would like to see a bigger investment in expanding our trail system, and there are others who value motorsports like NHRA and NASCAR.  Heck, there are even people willing to spend money watching monster trucks or lawnmower racing.

This all boils down to priorities.  We can’t be everything to everybody, so choices have to be made.  The Cardinals and the Blues seem to be relatively satisfied, for the time being, which leaves everyone else.  Should we focus our efforts on keeping the Rams or should we try to get an Arena Football team?  Would pro soccer be a better investment than pro lacrosse?  And should St. Louis work to keep any new facility in or near downtown, ar should we let other cities in the region share in both the glory and the headaches any pro team brings?

– Jim Zavist