The St. Louis Blues are only losing a minor league affiliate. The city of San Antonio is losing a team, which is a pain we know too well.
When the St. Louis Blues learned that the Vegas Golden Knights purchased the San Antonio Rampage, you know they had to be annoyed. This was the second time that Vegas had moved into their minor league turf, even if the first time was not quite so aggressive.
However, what was not known immediately after the news broke was what Vegas intended to do with the franchise. Initially, there was a vague thought that they might share the affiliation with the Blues if the team remained in San Antonio.
Instead, San Antonio fans are now going through a similar pain to what St. Louis fans dealt with a few years ago. Through no fault of their own, their team will leave for a supposedly better market, leaving loyal fans in the dust with games still to play.
Sounds familiar, right? The way Stan Kroenke and the Rams franchise went about things was a little more underhanded, but it affected the fans in the same way.
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Now, with about 28 games left in the 2019-20 season, San Antonio fans are left with two options. First, you can give up on the team you have supported and not give them another dime and tell them to not let the door hit them on the way out. That is the more spiteful way of doing things, but it does not always bring satisfaction, since you miss out on the sport you like.
Second, you can continue to go to games, knowing the team will leave no matter what. That’s like being in a relationship where no matter how well you treat your significant other, they are going to leave soon anyway. It’s not a great feeling.
Twitter was ablaze with Rampage fans venting their frustrations with the team and the sports world as well.
“San Antonio Rampage AAA hockey team sold to VGK. We’ll miss you. Spurs are probably next. San Antonio just doesn’t support pro sports teams. Never getting NFL team,” one fan wrote.
“We lost our WNBA team, Rampage are moving to Las Vegas, the MLS said “F you” and put a team in Austin, and our only chance at pro football folded with the rest of the league. San Antonio deserves so much better than this, especially as the 7th biggest city in the US.” – Brandon Taylor
The move won’t just impact regular fans. The ones that often get forgotten are the kids enrolled in programs that were aided by having a professional franchise in the city.
The San Antonio Junior Rampage might not have been directly affiliated with the team, but they will be losing a franchise that helped them out with fundraising, costing the many teams across the program to lose about 5% of their operating budget.
“We will have our challenges on how we continue to grow the sport. We will have to do it from a much more grassroots, organic methodology,” Jr. Rampage president Jody Pollard said in Patty Santos’ article.
“I just don’t want them to go. They’re a great team to watch,” Hudson Pollard, a player in the Junior Rampage organization said.
As a former Rams fan, this all makes me sad. San Antonio attendance had dipped a little bit in recent years, but they were still averaging well over 5,000 fans per night this season and over 6,000 fans per game in recent years. That was always in the top half of the league and higher than more traditional markets like Wilkes-Barre, Manitoba and Rockford.
Like the loyal Rams fans, who still put 40-50 thousand butts in seats to see one of the NFL’s worst teams, the Rampage fans are having their team taken away from them. I will not wish ill on the Rampage franchise, but I do wonder if the Golden Knights ownership group is overestimating the attraction to the game in their area.
They plan on moving the franchise to a Las Vegas suburb, but that depends on how close it is. While St. Louis is admittedly a different animal, minor league and junior teams have tried to play in Chesterfield and St. Charles, both of which are 30-45 minutes from downtown St. Louis, and none stuck. Sometimes there is only so much support to go around and most people want the game at the highest level.
So, we’ll see how well this works out for them. It definitely has not worked out for the loyal fans in San Antonio.
It doesn’t do any of them any good, but St. Louis fans know their pain.