Saturday, February 09, 2008

KRatzer's Corner by Mel Kratzer

Rams Need a Game
Atmosphere Overhaul

Its easy to pick on a pro football team when they’re down and out, and lets face it, the Rams are low level bottom of the river where the catfish roam “down”.  Besides improving on a sad 3-13 record, the team ownership needs to totally rehash what its like for a football fan to go to a St.Louis Ram’s football game at the Edward B Jones Dome in every way possible because this past year’s experience was as fun as watching paint dry.

Besides the obvious recommendation  of transforming our football team from a losing one into a winning one, the Rams and St.Louis’s governments that take care of the dome, need to change the indoor football atmosphere into an outdoor one with a retractable dome roof.  The majority of NFL fans want to see an autumn football contest with the sun basking on their shoulders and a pretty blue sky above them. When its seventy degrees and partly cloudy,  a typical “Sunday pigskin” fan finds it less appealing to spends three hours of football watching in a dark dungeon like dreary lit dome.  I’m an outside person and coming out of the dome after a Rams game makes me feel like a  hungover vampire when the sunlight ambushes you.

The St.Louis Rams lease calls for renovations to be done to the dome so why not add a low cost  no frills retractable dome while getting the Rams to sign an extension to their lease which expires in 2015?  A retractable roof would provide a more appealing  game situation to be a part for the die hard  Rams fan when the the weather is glorious. And when St.Louis has one of those bitter cold snowy afternoons, the roof would be up so “Joe Fan”can watch the game without freezing his you know what off.

If you put a winning football product on the field, fans will enthusiastically come. That’s a “Mel proverb” which best describes how attending a Rams game can be more enjoyable. Bad draft picks, a rash of injuries, questionable personnel decisions, insufficient preseason game exposure, and shaky game planning were just some of the contributing reasons why the 2007-2008 Rams season turned into a catostrophic train wreck campaign. Let a seasoned pro football scout make the draft picks and other personnel decisions instead of the coach or some pencil pushing front office accountant. I think Head Coach Scott Linehan can turn this sinking Rams ship upright but he must change strategies, coaching styles, and properly delegate authority to better qualified individuals. You follow this recipe for winning and you’ll stick more people into seats at the dome with smiles on their faces.

A decade of ticket price raises has pushed the common blue collar Rams fan out of the dome attendance since he cannot afford to go anymore. His replacement is a non -die hard football fan who usually got the tickets by default from his corporate company he works for. Its no wonder these fans leave just after halftime leaving the stadium half empty. Cut ticket prices like the Kansas City chiefs have and you’ll have a fan base like theirs- rowdy exuberant common man fans who will stay to the end of the game cheering on their home team like there is no tomorrow.

Myself and many other Rams fans I have talked to, have complained that they walk out of the dome with a headache attributing it to the overloud scoreboard commercials and public announcer’s booming high volume voice. Turn down PA Jim Holder please! His bellowing game comments remind me of the Wizard of Oz  barking out orders at Dorthy, the tinman , the scarecrow, and the lion.  A person likes to discuss the game or other things that pop into their head  in a mild toned manner  They don’t have a prayer of that if game annoucements and scoreboard commercials are equivalent to hearing a full blast megaphone.

To have more festive crowds in the Edward B. Jones Dome for Rams games, our football organization needs to increase and promote “tailgating”. The tailgating I am talking about is not the process of following someone from behind riding their bumper point range with your overeager Subaru. The tailgating I’m talking about, which is extremely popular at other NFL venues like Kansas City and Green Bay is eating ,drinking, listening to bands, and playing parking lot touch football before a game starts.  Tailgaters come into stadiums in uproaring good moods providing an electric charge to fans in attendance.  Alot of nearby  the dome stadium tailgating space has diminished thanks to the new downtown casino, and adjacent to the stadium bus parking.  Turn the very close in proximity Eads Bridge into a tailgating mecca. Close off a street or two near the stadium for tailgating use only.  There is a gangload of football fans who go to the game for the thrill of being in a super-charged
frenzied crowd.  Tailgating gives these people a head start so lets have the Rams promote it.

One final suggestion to make a Rams game more engaging to go to is to provide a decent musical artists to sing a few songs at halftime. Have a mildly popular music guest to spice up the fifteen minute intermission of non football.  A good band might fire up a crowd leading into a second half of  Rams football. 

Rams games need an energy boost in the worse way. Hopefully our St.Louis football organization will take heed of some of these ideas and make going to a home team NFL contest a more spirited one. St.Louis is a bonafide football town and with the right moves by its organization, it can become the best place to watch an NFL game. Help unleash the rabid St.Louis Ram fan like myself.