St. Louis Sports Online

Eric Niederhoffer 

St. Louis SportsOnline

columnist & principal photographer

Sellouts or Bailouts? 20 November 1998


The 1998 season of St. Louis Rams football has been pleasant for me. I have enjoyed three home games and anticipate another exciting Sunday at the TransWorld Dome as the Rams host the Carolina Panthers.

It has been apparent to me, as I walked the fifteen minutes from my car to the stadium, that there were plenty of "ticket holders" attempting to distribute extra passes to potential patrons. This seemed even more pronounced when the New York Jets came to town (a game that the Rams won).

Why so much activity prior to these home games? Why so little takers? Is there something going on that I don't know about? Hmmm.


photo by EC Niederhoffer

photo by EC Niederhoffer

This was not too unusual considering that the Rams were headed for another less than impressive season and that fans today appear more interested in instant gratification (i.e., the final result). A deadly combination for the front office (and head coach Dick Vermeil?).

A Response:

Rams president John Shaw, as reported by Jim Thomas (St. Louis Post-Dispatch Thursday 19 Nov 1998), indicated that team ownership will buy any unsold tickets for each of the remaining home games this season.

Why such a novel move?

With an average of 8,660 no-shows (there were 9,480 missing-in-action for the Jets and 7,270 MIAs for the 49ers), the Rams ownership appears eager to keep whatever patrons there are in the area, even if those people are somewhere near a television set. And in order to do that, the Rams must meet National Football League sellout requirements.

The Future:

Some sportswriters (and fans) may be asking the following question.

Should Dick Vermeil be worried about what is going on in front of him (on the field) or what is happening behind his back?

According to the article:

"I know it's my priority, and the priority of our ownership, that if the team doesn't succeed this year, that we have to provide hope to our fans that it's going to succeed in the future. I've stressed that point to Dick (Vermeil) - that if we're not succeeding, we're going to have to create change that provides hope. Because it's extremely difficult to watch a team lose continually."

I think the question is silly.

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