The St. Louis Rams and the city of St. Louis are currently in talks to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome to meet requirements in the current lease agreement. As Alex King tells us, no one is certain if the two sides will find common ground, or if the team and city will part ways.
The late 90s and early 2000s were the glory years for the Rams. They won one Super Bowl in 1999 and went back the following year losing to the New England Patriots. Since then things have gone downhill. The team has had trouble winning and new stadiums are being built around the NFL.
The Edward Jones Dome is struggling to keep up. A few years ago, some renovations were done. Now the Rams and CVC are negotiating more changes to get the stadium in the top tier of the NFL. Otherwise the Rams can leave after the 2014 season.
If the Rams do leave, it could have a big economic impact on the city. But Webster University Sports Economics Professor Patrick Rishe says there would be an even bigger loss than financial.
“When a team loses a city,” Rishe said. “Especially in North America’s most popular sport, where you lose a little bit of visibility and exposure for your city when you’re not one of the 32 teams in that most visible league. It would hurt St. Louis more I think from a reputational and a visibility stand point than it would from an economic stand point.”
So far, the Rams’ counter proposal to the city has been kept private. But Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says that he will release the details on the Rams’ proposal on Monday, unless a court rules that they remain sealed. Rams fan Barry Murphy says that he thinks it is important for the residents to know what’s going on.
“We don’t even know what’s going on even with the money situation as to them,” Murphy said. “So they’re keeping us in the dark and we’re actually paying the taxes, you know, we’re the taxpayers of that. So we need to know these things.”
Some fans have mixed feelings about who should pay for the renovations. Some, like George Schrage, say that they would be willing to pay a little more in taxes.
“If they need to renovate it in order to keep the Rams here in St. Louis I think it probably needs to be done and should be done,” Schrage said. “If it means an increase in property taxes, I would be willing to do that.”
But fan Juan Valdez thinks the team needs to pay for all the improvements themselves.
“I think they should pay for it themselves,” Valdez said. “Why take the taxpayers’ dollars. I mean, you know, it’s just the way it is. They’re billionaires so let them pay for it.”
Most of the focus on the Dome renovations involves the possibility of the Rams leaving. But it also impacts other groups, including the St. Louis Sports Commission. Sports Commission Vice President of Marketing and Development Mark Schreiber said that renovations to the dome would be a good thing.
“Well I think ultimately if you have an improved facility it only enhances our efforts to attract major events here that are good fits for the dome,” Schreiber said. “It makes St. Louis more attractive, it makes the venue more attractive.”
Los Angeles is one of the biggest TV markets in the country. The city is currently working on trying to get a new stadium built. Rishe says if Los Angeles gets a stadium, he would move the team for a few reasons.
“Across the NFL there was a study that just recently came out that ranked the Rams in the bottom five in the NFL in terms of fan loyalty, and I think that you throw that on top of the fact that the corporate community is limited in terms of financial support,” Rishe said. “If I’m Stan Kroenke, I’m looking very seriously at a franchise and a new stadium in Los Angeles.”
Before the issue of where the Rams will go is discussed, however, is the matter of the current lease. The Rams and the CVC have until June 15th to reach an agreement. If not, negotiations will go to an arbitrator.