ST. LOUIS – We finally know who gets what from the Rams settlement. The owner of the team, Stan Kroenke, and the NFL are waiting for approval from the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) board. The RSA owns the Dome at America’s Center, where the St. Louis Rams played for over 20 years.
There are no specifics yet on how the money will be spent, but there is momentum building behind a single idea: Do not blow it.
“What I don’t want to happen is that a year from now, we’ll be having this same interview and talking about ‘What happened to all that money?’” said Mark Harder, a member of the St. Louis County Council.
One year ago, on the night before Thanksgiving, attorneys from all parties met with a federal mediator in a Clayton law office and hatched the $790 million settlement, which, after attorneys’ fees, will have the three St. Louis plaintiffs splitting roughly $519 million. More than 70% of the total is reportedly coming from Kroenke himself.
After nearly a year of negotiations, the leaders of the three have agreed to the following terms:
- The City of St. Louis gets more than half: $280 million, but $30 million must go to America’s Center expansion or the RSA.
- St. Louis County gets nearly a third: $169 million.
- The RSA gets about 13%: $70 million and possibly an additional $30 million from the city.
When it comes to spending the settlement, “transform” has been the operative word.
Greater St. Louis Inc., which promotes regional economic growth, wants to adopt one of three national models for establishing a long-term, short-term, or hybrid “trust fund” for transformative economic projects.
The RSA board passed a resolution calling for “transformative” economic uses.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones called for “transformational change.”
“St. Louis cannot take a hammer to the political piggy bank,” she said. “We must invest these resources responsibly to make long-term, transformational change in our communities for future generations.”
“A big part of this should go to transformative projects in the region,” Harder said.
William Hall, an adjunct political science professor at Webster University, said the only way to truly transform America’s 20th largest metro area was to address “the elephants in the room,” city crime, the need for better police pay, and a significant jump in the number of officers.
“Until the crime problem is addressed, nothing else is going to get better,” Hall said.
His career includes work for the former U.S. Senator, John Danforth, the U.S. Department of Justice, and mayoral staff in New York and Chicago.
“The people who are being victimized the most by crime in a large sense are people of color, the elderly, families, and children,” Hall said. “If people do not feel safe coming to St. Louis, living in St. Louis, St. Louis will die a slow, agonizing death. I’ve seen that. I’ve worked in places like Detroit (for the Department of Justice). As the core goes, so goes the metropolitan area.”
The City’s Board of Aldermen, the St. Louis County Council, and the RSA board will decide how to spend the money.