Moving sports teams alters cities’ cultures, livelihoods

By: Duke Staff 

If you’re from Pittsburgh, chances are you love the Steelers.

There’s something special that comes with identifying as a member of the Black & Gold culture – a culture created by six Super Bowl championships and thousands of loyal bars, restaurants and fans from all around the world. It’s a wonderful time to be able to fly the Terrible Towel.

Now just imagine if Dan Rooney, the owner of the Steelers, cut a deal with the league to take the franchise somewhere else. The results would be devastating. Restaurants and bars would see a decline in clientele, the construction of Heinz Field would have been for nothing and Sunday afternoons would be uncomfortably quiet in places like South Side and the North Shore.

The city of St. Louis is facing that very real future. Two weeks ago, the NFL announced the Rams would relocate to their former birthplace, Los Angeles. The choice to send the Rams off to Southern California came to fruition after the city couldn’t muster up enough money to build a new stadium.

While the Steelers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, residents had a scare after realizing their beloved Pittsburgh Penguins were nearly the Kansas City Penguins. Back in 2007, the Penguins aggressively explored relocation before Mario Lemieux and Rob Burkle decided to buy the club in order to keep them in the Steel City. Still, if those plans went through, there would be no CONSOL Energy Center, no rejuvenation of the Hill District and no third Stanley Cup.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only city with sports at the forefront of its cultural advancement. For instance, towns such as New York City and Boston are meccas for sport lovers. If cities like those lost even one franchise, both casual fans and diehard fans would riot. They love their teams so much that they wouldn’t let someone away take their prized possession without a fight.

Sports are a way of life. They give people from different walks of life an opportunity to come together and bond even if it’s only for a few minutes at the bus stop or all night at a dive bar.

Thus, it’s hard not to feel for the residents of St. Louis. Losing a sports franchise is, in a way, much like saying goodbye to a good friend.

So next time you complain about how awful your favorite team has been doing this year, be thankful that your city actually has a team to root for.