ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams relocation saga came to an end Wednesday, nearly six years after owner Stan Kroenke returned the team to Los Angeles.
FOX 2’s Andy Banker reported the NFL and Kroenke agreed to pay $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed by St. Louis interests over the team’s relocation. The settlement does not include an expansion team, as a group of fans had been hoping.
The deal was crafted after a 15-hour mediation session. Attorneys for the parties involved met Tuesday with a mediator at the Clayton law offices of lead NFL attorney in St. Louis Gerard Carmody in the case to try to broker a settlement in the 4½-year-old lawsuit, ahead of the scheduled Jan. 10, 2022 trial.
Jim Bennett is the lead attorney for the St. Louis side. Former St. Louis City circuit judge and now practicing attorney Jack Garvey mediated this deal. The two sides arrived at approximately 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. They were there until almost midnight.
It’s believed the league negotiated as a whole and will decide how much each owner will pay, with the heaviest burden falling on Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
The settlement is a historic win for St. Louis and a historic loss for Kroenke and the NFL.
“It’s a great day for St. Louis. This kind of far exceeds what I expected,” said former Anheuser-Busch and Schnucks executive, Dave Peacock, who led the effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis in 2015.
“We invested and did everything we were told to do in the process, and we followed the (NFL’s) relocation process, and the team moved anyway,” he continued. “The facts spoke for themselves. While the settlement came earlier than expected, I think it’s a good outcome.”
FOX 2 obtained a copy of the agreement, which states that 35% of the money will go to the team of St. Louis attorneys who worked on the lawsuit for more than four years, on a contingency basis. The rest, about $516 million, will be split among the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA), which operated the Dome at America’s Center where the Rams used to play.
The St. Louis side accused Kroenke and the NFL of fraud for ignoring their relocation guidelines and encouraging St. Louis to spend $18 million on a new billion-dollar riverfront stadium plan while Kroenke and NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, among others, were plotting to move the Rams back to Los Angeles all along.
“There have been many cities that have been left by a team,” said sports economist, Dr. Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University. “There have been many cities where the league has turned their back on them across all sports but this is one case where a city has won and won big. That makes it historic.”
St. Louis City, County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority have accused the NFL of fraud and unjust enrichment of 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.
Kroenke and his fellow owners are reportedly feuding over who will cover any settlement or jury award. They risked their messages to each other about Rams relocation becoming public during a trial.
Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Sam Page issued this joint statement after the settlement was reached:
“This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process. The City, County, and STLRSA are still determining how settlement funds will be allocated. We will provide more updates as they become available.”
NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, issued this statement:
“The NFL and City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and (RSA) have been able to fully resolve the dispute. We appreciate the effort by all parties to reach a settlement and thank Judge Jack Garvey, for his service as mediator.”
Under the agreement, the NFL will have to pay within 30 days. The league has yet to resolve which owners will pay how much, though the heaviest burden will fall on Kroenke’s shoulders. He’s been feuding with fellow owners over his agreement to indemnify them against legal costs arising from the move.