Editorial by Alistair E. Fannell @the_mls
It’s been a couple of days to gather my thoughts after driving over two hundred miles from Springfield MO. to St. Louis visit my mother over the weekend to take the both of us to watch St. Louis’s newest football team the BattleHawks play at the Dome In America. I’m 45 years old, I was born in St. Louis and was fortunate to attend the St. Louis Football Cardinal games during the time of some the great individual players that played on the team such as Dan Dierdoft, Jim Hart, Roy Green, O.J. Anderson, Pat Tilley, and Roger Wehrli. I saw with great sadness to see the team move to Arizona after the 1987 season. I was fortunate to cheer with joy when the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999 for the city of St. Louis which were led by Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Orlando Pace, and Torry Holt. Only to be angry at owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL by allowing the Rams to move back to L.A after the 2015 season. I’ve seen it all from the highs and lows of Professional football in St. Louis which has taken a beating and abuse from sports naysayers who don’t live in St. Louis.
Sunday home opener was special and very emotional from the standpoint that while I was driving downtown with my mother to find a parking spot around 11 am, I was amazed to see tailgaters across the Dome wearing their BattleHawks T-shirts, sweaters, posing as a hawk mascots and watching the newly fanbase have their traditional pre-game meal. I didn’t get to watch the pre-game concerts festivity or get the free give away T-shirts, where the events were taking place on North 6th St & Convention Plaza across the Dome but to see a day later on YouTube videos that were posted, brought back memories of the Rams or the Football Cardinals pre-game event that I use to attend. As I sat next to my mother inside the Dome and hearing the roar of 29,000 fans, it gave me chills to my spine as the St. Louis BattleHawks players were introduced by the P.A. announcer. Then when Christine Michael scored the first touchdown in 5 years at Dome of America, tears started to stream from my eyes. I don’t know why, maybe it was the emotion of seeing Football Back in St. Louis but seeing the fans cheer for their new team shows that they love Professional Football as long as the organization of the team likes them back.
I’ve been through this painful cycle for 45 years with the former city that I still call home. The sports naysayers will say that the Rams moved out of St. Louis because the fans gave up on the team; no not true, it was owner Stan Kroenke who gave up on the fans and even his right-hand man Kevin Demoff actually lied on behave of Kroenke when he said on ESPN 101radio show back in 2014, hosted by Randy Kakarraker that the team didn’t have plans to move back to L.A. It was no wonder why fans before and during the game were chanting ” Kroenke Sucks” and some even whore t-shirts of Roger Godell the commissioner of the NFL as a clown who helped orchestrate the Rams move to L.A. And even though they’ve been gone for almost 30 years the Cardinals gave me reason why I lost faith of the team. Think about it, we had 2 NFL teams and they combine for only 16 winning season and 8 appearances in the playoffs.
Anyway, when the referee blew the whistle for the final time which the BattleHawks won 29-9 against the New York Guardians, it really felt that for the first time that St. Louis got the respect that it needed as a football town. Sure, it’s not the NFL and sadly we may never get an NFL team but it’s a Professional football team that is born and originated in St. Louis. I want to thank XFL founder Vince McMahon and Commissioner Oliver Luck for awarding city a franchise, I thank Team President Kurt Hunzeker reaching out to fans across St. Louis to my current city I live Springfield MO. and putting on one of the best Pre-game tailgate party that I’ve seen in years. I thank the BattleHawks team for putting a good product on the field and getting their first home win. But most importantly I thank my former residents in St. Louis for showing America that we are a great sports town, making the BattleHawks Home opener special and emotional.