To this point, the St. Louis Rams’ stadium issues have gone just about as expected with both sides making offers and neither one giving an inch to the other. With the June 15 deadline looming before the two parties would enter arbitration, some are wondering which side will have the leverage advantage once that process gets underway.
Once the issue makes its way up the ladder in the arbitration process, both sides will have their true intentions on display. With a $124 million plan set forth by the city and then a $700 million counteroffer from the Rams, that more than half a billion dollar difference on how the Edward Jones Dome should be renovated is quite a substantial chasm between the two parties. The city’s plan “called for $124 million in improvements such as a bigger scoreboard and better club seating. It also would have required the Rams to pay 52 percent of the cost. Taxpayers would have to approve funding for the remaining 48 percent.” The Rams’ offer included “a new roof with a sliding panel, replacing much of the brick exterior with a glass front, even re-routing a nearby street.”
Obviously the two differ on just what constitutes a top-tier stadium per the lease agreement signed back in 1995. That raises the question as to which side will cave first and what may have the biggest impact on that question is the outcome of the Rams’ 2012 campaign.
It’s highly likely that the arbitration process won’t get interesting until early 2013 at which the Rams season will have concluded. If the team fairs well (and given their recent futility, the only way to go is up), the city may be more willing to pony up some money to keep them in St. Louis. The Los Angeles whisper may get louder should the city not be willing to may compromises with owner Stan Kroenke and that would be a messy situation for all parties involved.
For the time being, it appears the arbitration process will begin and go up the chain of command as predicted. That will buy the city enough time to see just what type of product the Rams will have on the field in 2012 and in the coming years as well with all of their young talent. With Kroenke’s known affinity for LA and the NFL’s known desire to get back into that city, it might be wise for St. Louis to strike a deal soon if they want to keep the NFL in town the second time around.
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