In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes with only "five days to go before the first critical deadline" for outlining plans to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome, "isn't it time that someone take an accurate pulse of this region to determine just how badly we want or need an NFL franchise to call our own?" Burwell: "Ask yourself the simple question: What's it worth to the St. Louis region to be one of the only 32 municipalities in America that has an NFL franchise? ... If we can get a true temperature of the region and a consensus of intelligent people agree that there is legitimate value in having an NFL franchise in St. Louis, then the commission negotiators must get creative enough to entice" Rams Owner Stan Kroenke to stay (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/27).
GOOD PAY, POOR PLAY: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted despite outgoing Owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's financial success, the Maple Leafs, Raptors and MLS Toronto FC "have slipped on the ice, the court and the field." The Leafs have "not made the playoffs since 2004 despite having one of the highest payrolls, although this season’s team has a winning record at the All-Star break and is in ninth place -- one spot away from the playoffs -- in the Eastern Conference." The Raptors "draw well in part because the team has a roster full of international players, a good fit for an ethnically diverse city like Toronto." But in their "first 16 years, the Raptors have only five winning seasons and one division title." Skeptics say that MLSE and its parent company, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, "are too corporate to run successful teams." Some fans "seem eager for new ownership, even if it means paying more for tickets" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/27).
LOOKING GOOD: MLS Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman said the team has sold 1,000 more season tickets season-over-season, but the club still needs "to deliver at a different level." Heineman: "We always need to be thinking about how to make the in-stadium experience better from the way to treat people to the quality of food.” In K.C., Tod Palmer notes the “only piece that hasn’t fallen into place yet this offseason is a jersey sponsor.” Heineman said, “We’ll announce it when it’s done. But I can’t really comment right now, because we are not in the position as sole decision-maker” (K.C. STAR, 1/27).