ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – As NFL owners gather in Houston for a meeting to discuss bringing pro football back to Los Angeles, it appears the Rams’ days in St. Louis could be numbered, just 20 years after the team moved from the City of Angels to the Gateway City.
St. Louis had gone seven years without NFL football before rolling out the welcome mat for the Rams and then-owner Georgia Frontiere. The franchise played a few games at the old Busch Stadium before moving into the TWA Dome, now called the Edward Jones Dome.
Upon Georgia Frontiere’s death, minority owner Stan Kroenke purchased the remaining shares of the team in 2010 from Frontiere’s children.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which operates the Edward Jones Dome, had signed a lease with the Rams that would allow the team to leave St. Louis if the dome was not among the top eight stadiums by 2015. As such, the team entered a year-to-year lease deal with the dome ahead of the 2015 NFL season.
In February 2012, the CVC put forth a plan for $124 million worth of improvements to the Edward Jones Dome. Said plan included new windows, a giant video screen, and a bridge over Broadway. The Rams rejected that plan and submitted a counter-proposal to the CVC a couple of weeks later.
The Rams initially tried to keep that counter-offer a secret, but local media successfully argued the documents should be made public under the Sunshine Law since taxpayer money was used to build the Edward Jones Dome in the first place. The Rams’ plan called for installation of a retractable roof and gutting much of the interior to put in new seating. City leaders feared downtown businesses would suffer because the dome would be closed for years during renovations.
Arbitrators ruled that the dome would need a $700 million renovation to make it a top-tier NFL stadium. The CVC balked at that suggestion, citing high costs.
City leaders have long held the belief that Kroenke was never interested in keeping the team in St. Louis. He would not meet with local and state officials, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said exactly one year ago. To this day, Kroenke and Slay have yet to meet.
As of January 2016, Kroenke has a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to Forbes. He’s paid for the Pepsi Center in Denver, where his hockey and basketball teams play, and covered the costs of building a new stadium for his Arsenal soccer team in London.
The impasse between Kroenke and the city led to plans for a new NFL stadium along the St. Louis riverfront, just north of downtown. In December 2015, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a financing package for a $1.1 billion stadium by a 17-10 vote.
Fox 2 News examined the final deal on the riverfront stadium and the full cost was broken down as such:
- About $151 million would come from bonds paid off by the State of Missouri
- About $70 million from bonds to be paid by the City of St. Louis
- $80 million more in bonds would be paid with tax revenues generated at the stadium on days of events (100% of the proceeds from parking and ticket taxes would go toward bond payments, along with 50% of game day sales tax revenues on things like food, drinks, and souvenirs during years 1-10, 25% years 11-20, with the City of St. Louis keeping getting all game day sales revenues thereafter)
- Almost $99 million would from state tax credits and Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority dollars
- $250 million would come from the NFL owner
- $200 million from the NFL G4 stadium loan program
- About $160 million from seat licenses fans would have to buy
- $158 million from a naming rights deal would go to the NFL owner, offsetting his cost
At the time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other owners agreed the St. Louis plan was far ahead of Oakland and San Diego. However, the commissioner seemingly reversed course over the weekend, calling all three of the cities’ plans to keep their teams “inadequate.”
On Monday, January 4, the Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders all filed relocation paperwork with the NFL. At the time, the Rams released a brief statement on the matter:
“The St. Louis Rams informed the National Football League today that the Rams propose to relocate to the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. The relocation would be effective for the 2016 NFL League Year.”
The franchise relocation fee is $550 million.
Kroenke announced plans last January to build a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood at Hollywood Park, site of the former horse track. His proposed stadium would carry an estimated price tag of $1.9 billion.
A team would need three-quarters of NFL owners to vote in favor of relocation before they could move. The league’s relocation committee is expected to make its recommendation to the rest of league ownership prior to the vote. The six owners who make up the committee are: Art Rooney II (Pittsburgh Steelers, committee chairman); Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers); Robert Kraft (New England Patriots); Robert McNair (Houston Texans); John Mara (New York Giants); and Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs).
Information from CNN was used in this report.