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St. Louis BattleHawks opening upper deck of stadium for XFL home games

A view of the The Dome at America Center during the first half of an XFL game between the St. Louis BattleHawks and the New York Guardians (Credit: Getty Images)

The St. Louis BattleHawks are feeding into intense local fan interest by opening up the upper deck of the Dome at America’s Center for their next XFL home games.

The BattleHawks’ next home game in the start-up spring-season American football league will be on March 21 against the Los Angeles Wildcats in Week 7.

Thus far the team has generated league-best home crowds of 29,554 and 27,527. The Dome has a capacity of about 67,000 fans.

Part of the BattleHawks’ huge support is a desire for local fans to send a strong message to National Football League team owner Stan Kroenke, who took the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles amid bitter acrimony in January 2016.

When Kroenke submitted a controversial 29-page proposal to the NFL about moving the Rams to LA, he issued a scathing review of St. Louis’s economic health, saying that he believed the Midwestern market was not able support three major professional sports teams between the Rams, Major League Baseball’s Cardinals, and the National Hockey League’s Blues.

“Compared to all other US cities,” Missouri native Kroenke wrote, “St. Louis is struggling.”

The ill-will and rancor for Kroenke in St. Louis remains to this day, and local sports fans are turning out in huge numbers to support their new professional American football team to make a point to the Rams owner that his views about the city were completely wrong.

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck recently told SportBusiness he was satisfied with the progress of the league, but he admits that attendances in both Los Angeles and New York need to improve.

Luck says XFL executives will re-examine team venues at the end of the season to determine if the facilities chosen are appropriate sizes in regards to the attendances generated. But he added that the league does not want its teams to primarily play in smaller venues to allow for the possibility of 30,000-plus attendances for play-off and championship games.