The lovefest that the St. Louis region underwent as the St. Louis Blues went from worst to first to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history made it clear who is the official, unofficial, and alternate favorite hockey team of the city. The team also is one signature – that of Gov. Mike Parson – away from becoming the official state hockey team of Missouri as well.
Sitting on Parson’s desk is Senate Bill 210, introduced by state Senator Karla May (D-St. Louis), which “creates a number of official state designations, a memorial highway, and the Missouri Historical Theater program.”
“We were all excited about the possibility of the Blues bringing home the Stanley Cup,” May told The American. “However, the Senate has been known to vote down such designations.”
May saw an opening when state Senator Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D-Kansas City) fought in committee to allow the Kansas City Chiefs to become the state’s official football team. That effort passed as Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 and also awaits Parson’s signature.
May nicely got a cross-state assist from state Rep. Matt Sain (D-Kansas City), who added the Blues language to her state designations bill in the House.
“When the bill got back to the Senate, I was able to sustain the language by reiterating the success of the Blues organization and the length of time they have been our hockey team,” May said (the Blues were founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1967). “Also,” May said, like a consummate athlete making sure to share credit with other members of the team, “it did help that the other designation had passed.”
Curls and May are both African-American women. Though the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for exercising his freedom of speech has turned some folks away from the NFL, it has long been a league dominated by black athletes with a robust black fan base. Hockey, not so much. But the Cinderella story of the Blues won the team some new fans and brought into public light some black fans who had been keeping their enthusiasm relatively quiet.
The Blues staff have been very smooth for years in integrating new fans into base. In April 2016, a brother from St. Louis named Anthony Holmes who tweets as Tony X (@soloucity) stumbled onto the fast-paced game of professional ice hockey and tweeted an immortal witticism that went viral again during the Blues’ successful 2019 playoff run: “White people been hiding hockey from us for years bruh. This shit lit.” The Blues social media team reached out, put him in a seat less than a week later, and tweeted out his smiling face above a Blues jersey.
So as not to overstate May’s rabid fandom, it should be said that Senate Bill 210 will enshrine more than the Blues if the governor signs it into law. Our city’s hockey team has some quirky company in what would be the Class of 2019 for new state designees. The pawpaw tree would become the state fruit tree, the Missouri "Show Me" tartan the official tartan, and the hellbender salamander, “also known as the snot otter or lasagna lizard,” would get the tragic honor of becoming the official endangered species for the state of Missouri. Also, the portion of State Highway P from Dove Nest Lane continuing east to State Highway M in St. Charles County would become known as "Waylon Jennings Memorial Highway" (hell, yeah).
Nor is May the first African American from St. Louis who has risen to the Blues’ defense. David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, stepped in to help keep the Blues in St. Louis and Missouri in 2012 as part of an ownership group that purchased the team for $130 million.
Though he declined to cite dollars or percentages when interviewed by The American in 2012, Steward said he was “one of a group of business leaders interested in preserving this team in our community. I wouldn’t say it was a business decision, so much as a civic decision.”
Parson’s office did not respond immediately when asked if he will sign Senate Bill 210 or when.