Last week the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission submitted its latest document to the St. Louis Rams detailing how the CVC proposes to update the Edward Jones Dome.
As is widely known, when luring the Rams to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1995, the City of St. Louis and the CVC allowed a loophole for the team to exit St. Louis after the 2014 season if the then newly opened domed stadium was no longer in the top 25 percent of all National Football League stadiums. As more and more NFL teams have constructed increasingly opulent and expensive venues in the last 17 years, it’s become all the more difficult for the CVC to reach that far-away goal established back in 1995.
The Rams and the CVC have been going back and forth with plans and counter-plans since 2011. Earlier this year the CVC unveiled its offer of $124 million in improvements to the Jones Dome, with the Rams expected to pay about half of that amount. Certainly, that figure seemed unrealistic when compared with the $1 billion Taj Mahal built in Texas to accommodate the Dallas Cowboys.
Subsequently, the Rams countered with their own proposal, which officials in the City of St. Louis said could end up costing close to $700 million, an amount not likely to be warmly embraced by area taxpayers who still are paying off the mortgage on that 1995 project.
After the Rams’ counterproposal, both sides entered into arbitration that was designed to hopefully reach an agreement by the end of 2012. With its August 24th proposal, the CVC has punted the football back to the Rams’ side of the field and awaits, with the three-member arbitration panel, the club’s newest counter-proposal.
The CVC intends for the public to pay less than half the cost of the renovation, with the Rams and the NFL being asked to pony up the remainder. Given, though, that the NFL openly has stated its desire to loan funds to any of its member owners who are upgrading facilities, the real question is how much are the Rams themselves willing to shell out for an improved Jones Dome?
Really, we’ll know much more by the end of 2012, which now is just four months away. Are the Rams truly interested in remaining in St. Louis, given that Los Angeles is the nation’s second-biggest market and still without a pro football team to call its own after so many years? How much allegiance does Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke have to area fans? While he went to Mizzou, he has sports teams spread far and wide, from Denver to London. Too, Kroenke most definitely likes to make a profit on any of his business ventures.
Right now the CVC and St. Louis await word from the Rams regarding the CVC’s most recent proposal. Will the football team view it as a legitimate attempt at compromise? Or will the Rams hold fast to their request for a new facility that could come with a $700 million price tag?
Also, was the Rams’ recent cancellation of two homes games to be played in London in 2013 and 2014 a sign of good faith with local fans, or merely a move to camouflage the team’s wishes to bolt The Lou after 2014 for the bright lights and big dreams of LA?
Stay tuned. While we’re all hopeful of resounding success by the Rams on the football field this season, the ongoing saga of stadium plans and counter-plans could well be the local gridiron highlight of autumn.
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