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Sports spotlight shines brightly on St. Louis


October 28. 2013 9:36PM
Associated Press



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(AP) Apparently, Monday Night Football had a message for the World Series: Meet me in St. Louis.


The prime-time NFL game has been around since 1970 but, until now, it had never been played in the same city where a World Series was going on.


The dual events that took place near the Gateway Arch meant more than 100,000 people were expected to be crammed into downtown St. Louis. Busch Stadium, hosting the pivotal Game 5 of the Series with the Cardinals and Red Sox tied at two games apiece, sits eight blocks south of the Edward Jones Dome, home of the Rams.


Games 3 and 4 of the World Series drew record crowds of more than 47,000 to Busch. The dome holds more than 66,000 fans. Whether or not the matchup of the 3-4 Rams against the 6-1 Seattle Seahawks draws anywhere close to capacity will have to be seen.


All on its own, the football game should have been a joyous occasion it marked the first Monday night game in St. Louis since 2006, a drought largely due to the fact that the Rams have been mostly awful since then. But in baseball-mad St. Louis, the Rams were clearly taking a backseat.


"You want to go crazy for the Rams on national TV," William Cain of Belleville, Ill., said. Then again, he opted for baseball and was at the World Series.


"I think almost everyone in St. Louis will agree the World Series is more important," he said.


Apparently so.


Two hours before the first pitch of Game 5, StubHub had World Series tickets going for $244 and more. Rams tickets were selling for as little as $9.75.


Fans at the dome could be excused if their focus wasn't exactly on football. The Rams, in a division with powerhouses Seattle and San Francisco, are a longshot to make the playoffs. To make matters worse, they lost quarterback Sam Bradford to a season-ending knee injury last week in Carolina.


Smart phones figured to get a strong workout inside the dome, with the football crowd keeping up with the baseball game.


It's happened before. In 1998, players on both football teams were perplexed when a huge cheer went up just as the Rams were about to take a snap. Mark McGwire had just hit his 69th homer on the final day of the baseball season. Moments after the football game ended, the few fans still in the dome let out another cheer McGwire hit No. 70.


It could have been worse for the Rams. If St. Louis had won Game 4 on Sunday, the Cardinals would have been playing with a chance to win the World Series on Monday.


Not every fan was laser-focused only on baseball. Retired electrical engineer Jeffrey Miller of St. Charles, Mo., a season ticket holder for both teams, showed up at the World Series in a Matt Holliday jersey on his back and a Rams helmet on his head. He planned to watch four innings of baseball, then walk to the dome for some football.


After that, it depended on how the teams were doing.


"It's a shame because Monday Night Football deserves the attention of the city," Miller said.


The Rams have problems that extend beyond competition from the Cardinals. In addition to the team's lack of success on the field they were 15-65 over a five-year span before going 7-8-1 last season the dome is old and outdated by NFL standards. Average home attendance this season is 55,395, second-worst in the NFL, ahead of only Oakland.


The Cardinals' fortunes have been just the opposite. St. Louis is playing in its 10th postseason since 2000 and its fourth World Series since 2004. The Cardinals drew nearly 3.4 million fans to Busch Stadium this season, averaging 41,602, second-highest in baseball.


Associated Press


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