Dome Owners Fight to Keep Rams in St. Louis

Picture of Saint Louis Rams rejected stadium proposal

(from Business Week, December 4, 2013)  The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, which manages the dome, offered a $124 million improvement plan last year that included a bigger scoreboard and better club seating with the Rams paying slightly more than half of those costs. The Rams came back with a far more ambitious counter offer that called for a new sliding panel roof and a large amount of improvements that would keep the city convention center in the dome closed for three years. A price tag wasn’t put on the team’s request, but the city officials estimated the upgrades would cost around $700 million.

Two decades ago the sports authority governing board crafted the lease that could lead to the Rams’ departure. Andrew Leonard served on that very board but wasn’t wary about its long-term value.  Some officials now regret signing this lease. Leonard told the board, “That was the best deal we could get. . . . We did what we could. . . . It’s the price we paid for getting the Rams.”

After the 2014 season the Rams can break their 30 year lease, which is a decade early, but the Rams have said very little about their plans beyond an interest to stay. After city leaders rejected the teams request for $700 million in publicly funded upgrades, the owners of the Edward Jones Dome said Tuesday they are hopeful the St. Louis Rams won’t leave. The Rams are allegedly considering several stadium locations in St. Louis County, where the team’s practice facility and headquarters are located.

After mediation between the team, the commission and the stadium authority failed, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon took over negotiations with Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Andrew Leonard, Visitors Commission Chairman, said he’s been assured Cby Nixon that keeping the Rams in St. Louis is a top priority. This priority is influenced by the loss of the football Cardinals after their 1987 season when Bill Bidwill was unable to obtain a stadium of his own rather than share Busch Stadium with the baseball Cardinals.