No resolution thus far in mediation proceedings between St. Louis, Kroenke

Sports

ST. LOUIS – The city’s long-standing legal battle against Rams owner Enos Stan Kroenke and the NFL moved outside of a courtroom.

Attorneys for the parties involved met Tuesday with a mediator at the Clayton law offices of a lead NFL attorney in the case to try to broker a settlement in the 4½-year-old lawsuit, ahead of the scheduled Jan. 10, 2022 trial.

There was no comment from any of those involved in the mediation.

“I don’t expect anything to get settled today, even though we have mediation,” said Dr. Patrick Rishe, a sports economist and director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Rishe has kept a close eye on the Rams relocation drama since it began.

St. Louis City, County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority have accused the NFL of fraud and unjust enrichment for allegedly encouraging St. Louis to spend millions on a new stadium plan to keep the Rams from moving while plotting all along to move the team back to Los Angeles.

A new poll of 700 registered voters in St. Louis City and County from the political firm Show Me Victories suggests pressure may be mounting for Kroenke and the NFL to settle.

Approximately 71% of those polled say they are following the case.

“Working in politics, that number is very high,” said Braxton Payne, Show Me Victories. “We rarely see anything above 50% when it comes to specific issues among registered voters and we saw that this was at 71%.”

Almost half, 49%, favor an NFL expansion team for St. Louis as part of a settlement;
56% would like to see a St. Louis jury decide the matter.

Kroenke and his fellow owners are reportedly feuding over who will cover any settlement or jury award. They risk their messages to each other about Rams relocation becoming public during a trial.

“I have to think there are many multiple ‘smoking guns’ in some of the emails,” Rishe said. “Do the owners and the NFL want to risk some of that becoming public? I don’t think … you talk about the unjust enrichment, the increase in the franchise value. If we would have built the stadium here, we would have seen an increase in franchise value here. Again (there’s) the long-term loss of tax revenue. All of these things when you add them up and then on top of that, punitive damages, all of that together you are now reaching into the hundreds of millions, if not the billions of dollars (for a settlement).”

Rishe expects the NFL to expand with more teams within the next decade.

“I think it’s smart for the lawyers on the St. Louis side to not only negotiate cash now but also if we get a franchise in the future that we have an under-market expansion fee and we get more than the average loan from the NFL to help build a new stadium,” Rishe said.

There was no comment on any progress made here today. A spokesman for St. Louis County Counselor, Beth Orwick, told FOX 2 a court order bans the parties involved from speaking publicly about the case.

The next court hearing is set for Dec. 3.

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