Can the Cardinals regain being the premier franchise in Missouri with Chiefs dynasty?

The Cardinals were the symbol of excellence for all of Missouri sports during the 2000-2010 decades. Now they have to regain their throne from NFL's next great championship era in Kansas City.

Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Jeff Curry/GettyImages
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We were all in marvel Sunday night with the predictable, yet artistic way Patrick Mahomes brought the Kansas City Chiefs back from a deficit to dramatically win the Super Bowl. This feels like a repeat story year after year when watching Missouri's remaining NFL franchise. The Chiefs are now back-to-back NFL champions and have won three Lombardi trophies in the past five seasons. The NFL is watching the next established dynasty and has a new era to follow the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots.

The Chiefs have been heavily supported by fans across Missouri for years, during the horrendous years before Andy Reid and now during the last half-decade of pure dominance. This progression has taken over the national spotlight and has this era of Chiefs football recognized on a much bigger stage than your local football team. It is always impressive to see runs like this within professional sports, but it is always more exciting when it is your local team doing it. It unifies everyone who lives in Missouri and has everyone rooting for Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and even Taylor Swift.

Before this dynasty took the country and state of Missouri by storm, a different franchise had the hearts of all of Missouri for over a two-decade stretch. The St. Louis Cardinals were the premier franchise of Missouri and everyone was invested in them. The team is still selling over 3.3 million tickets every season and they have not won a World Series since 2011. The impact that the Pujols/Molina era had on fans across the state has still not worn off. Fans still cherish the 2001-2006 run that saw two World Series appearances and one championship. It had been 24 years since fans have experienced winning in St. Louis and it created new memories for old and new fans alike.

2011 was the peak of the fandom. No storybook or fairytale could have written a better outcome than what took place during October of 2011. David Freese's postseason not only cemented his legendary greatness as the local hero, but it cemented him in the depths of baseball lore. It put that Cardinals' moment on a stage bigger than Missouri. It put it on a bigger stage than the World Series itself. It was a moment that all fans of baseball will always look back to as the greatest game of all time with game 6.

2012-2015 was another great stretch of Cardinals baseball. Fans expected appearances in October and to be playing for the World Series again which they received in 2013. The absences of Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa felt like the book had closed on this magical era of Cardinals baseball but the torch was carried with Yadier Molina. He carried it through the tough times of the Matheny era, through the 2019 NLDS dramatics, through COVID, all the way to the storybook ending in 2022 with the reunion of Pujols. It was officially the closing of the great Cardinals' run of being the face of Missouri sports.

2023 was the lowest of lows for the Cardinals franchise. The organization knew the book had closed from prior success, and did not have an identity to start another novel in the series. 2024 has lots of questions from fans on how to create this lost magic and to get back to the glory days of the MV3 and Molina eras.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs rose to find their new winning identity in 2018 during the Cardinals' rough stretch with Matheny. The Chiefs have not looked back and continue to make waves in the social climate of the country. The brand is at its highest peak ever and is not showing signs of slowing down. Patrick Mahomes is the biggest face in sports and Travis Kelce is the biggest face in Pop media. What they have done on and off the field has changed the current culture for sports which will be felt for years to come.

With that, can the Cardinals ever return to their once glorious reign as Missouri's face for sports? We have seen the Royals' short window in 2014-2015 that led to a championship celebrated in Missouri. We have also seen the 2019 Stanley Cup celebrations in St. Louis from the Blues overtaking the city. Now we have the Chiefs running the NFL's next great dynasty that is leaving its mark on all of professional sports.

The Cardinals continue to fall from fame and are settling in shame. We have seen the growth of business ventures around Busch Stadium that continue to bring people to Busch Stadium for baseball-related activities or non-baseball-related activities. Ballpark Village has become the new blueprint for sports owners across the country that has been copied and pasted by many sports franchises. The Cardinals have been a business juggernaut in finding new innovative ways to bring fans to their new products, but they have yet to show that on the main product being the baseball team.

Many factors will have to reestablish the Cardinals as the new face of Missouri sports. Who will be the next Albert Pujols to be the superstar in St. Louis? Who will be the next Yadier Molina and wear the franchise on their sleeve for over two decades? Is there a core to build off of for years to come? Will one World Series trophy be enough to regain the franchise's respected image in sports? To overcome the current reign of the Kansas City Chiefs, do the Cardinals have to have their own dynasty to reclaim Missouri? It starts with getting the franchise back to its winning ways.

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