How to slice a $790 million pie? St. Louis city and county jockey for Rams settlement money
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Monday his administration is still in the early stages on how to divide a massive settlement stemming from the departure of the Rams, but one St. Louis alderman is saying the city should get the majority.
Last week, Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones announced a $790 million agreement to settle a lawsuit that alleged, among other things, that the NFL and the Rams broke key guidelines when the team bolted to Los Angeles. About 35% of that money is expected to go to attorneys while the rest, around $500 million, will go to the city, county and the St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.
Page told reporters on Monday that it wasn’t clear what percentage of the settlement the county will receive. St. Louis County taxpayers contributed funds to pay off bonds that helped build the Dome at America’s Center. St. Louis and the State of Missouri also contributed toward those bond payments.
“That’s part of the conversation we’ll be having over the next month,” Page said. “We’ve got a month or so to work out those details. The settlement’s not quite a week old, and a lot of that week was a long holiday weekend. So we’ll work through those details.”
Soon after the settlement was announced on Wednesday, Ward 7 Alderman Jack Coatar told St. Louis Public Radio that St. Louis County should get less of the settlement since it declined to financially contribute to a riverfront stadium proposal in 2015. Then-St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger cited the county’s charter amendment requiring any public funds going toward stadiums to be put up for a countywide vote.
Coatar, who played a major role in getting the stadium legislation passed in 2015, said the county’s lack of participation made that effort much more difficult. In fact, one of the arguments against the legislation was that the county wasn’t contributing.
“Candidly back at the time, the county was of little help in that process,” said Coatar, whose ward includes the stadium where the Rams played. “It would have made our job at the Board of Aldermen and the folks who were working on the relocation effort … a lot easier if we had the city, the county and the state involved in the effort to keep the Rams. Instead it was the city and the state going without the county.”
Asked about the contention that the county doesn’t deserve a third of the settlement since the county didn’t participate in the riverfront stadium proposal, Page replied, “I’m not prepared today to talk about how it would be divided.”
“We’ll wait and get direction and guidance from our attorneys,” Page said. “I expect that there will be a lot of statements made, mostly about how the funds should be spent.”
Page didn’t provide any specifics about how the money should be spent, again noting that the county doesn’t know its share. In addition, the county has received more than $190 million from the American Rescue Plan — and could get more money from federal infrastructure legislation.
“Most everybody has an opinion over the weekend on how these funds should be spent. And I respect that,” Page said. “This is a big decision and a big development. It’s something we’ve been working on for five years. My goal will be to spend the funds in a way that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of folks in St. Louis County, and we’ll be listening to what everybody has to say.”
Nick Dunne, a spokesman for Jones, said the city is waiting on confirmation for when the negotiations for dividing the money would begin.
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