The already murky future of professional football in St. Louis got a bit gloomier on Monday.
Officials confirmed that the St. Louis Rams officially entered into a year-to-year lease with the St. Louis’ Convention and Visitors Commission. And the Los Angeles Times reported an Inglewood stadium plan had garnered 20,000 signatures – twice the amount needed to put the measure on the ballot.
In a statement, St. Louis’ Convention and Visitors Commission President Kitty Ratcliffe said: "We have received notification from the St. Louis Rams of their intent to convert their lease agreement to an annual tenancy effective in March 2015."
"While the lease will now run year-to-year, all other lease terms remain the same," Ratcliffe said. "We look forward to working with Rams’ management in preparation for the 2015 football season in the Edward Jones Dome.”
The statement from the governor’s task force – which consists of former Anheuser Busch President Dave Peacock and attorney Bob Blitz – said: “The Rams told us today of their decision to engage in an annual one-year lease with the CVC, as well as their submission of petition signatures for the ballot initiative in Inglewood.”
“We appreciate the Rams personally informing us of their decision here in St. Louis as well as their filing in Inglewood,” the statement said. “Neither of these actions was unexpected, nor do they have any effect on our stadium plans for the north riverfront of St. Louis.”
While neither move was completely unexpected, it does provide even more credence that Rams owner Stan Kroenke wants to move the team to the Los Angeles area. Earlier this month, the L.A. Times reported about a proposal to build a new stadium in Inglewood almost exclusively with private money. Some sports experts said that made the prospect of the Rams leaving a lot more serious.
It comes as policymakers are mulling over a 64,000-seat riverfront stadium that would be funded with a combination of public and private money. The public portion of the plan includes extending bonds that the state, county and city issued to originally pay for the Edward Jones Dome.
The National Football League already announced that no team would relocate to Los Angeles during the 2015 season. And it’s possible that Kroenke’s bid to move the Rams might stoke opposition from other owners – and may run afoul of NFL rules that say an owner seeking relocation must deplete all options in his home city and “cannot move to simply enrich himself.”