There was much talk about the St. Louis Rams potentially leaving town last offseason with their lease on the Edward Jones Dome set to expire in the near-term and the facility slowing falling down the ranks of NFL buildings. After some discussion yielded no results last year, the club now must face the same questions again regarding their home turf. Fans of the Rams in St. Louis have been awfully worried given the league’s fascination with returning a team to Los Angeles, but the team’s front office seems dedicated to keeping the club around.
The issue at hand is the terms of the lease and how they state that the Rams dome must be considered a “top-tier” facility (in the top 25 percent of league buildings) by the start of the 2015 season. Despite the apparent road blocks to making that goal achievable, the Rams organization remains optimistic. According to Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff: “I want to ease people’s concerns about where we’re going to play within St. Louis over the next 20, 30, 40 years. That’s really the way we’re looking at this.”
When this issue initially arose, the team submitted a plan that would renovate the dome with the price tag of around $700 million. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) quickly rejected that effort and came up with its own $124 million plan in improvements of which the Rams would foot 52 percent of the bill.
Needless to say, both sides were unhappy and the stalemate began. The two entities entered non-binding arbitration on Monday where three arbitrators will hear both perspectives and either side with the Rams, with the CVC, or find somewhere in between. Neither side is bound to any decision that the arbitration panel makes (hence “non-binding”) so this could be an ongoing saga.
Rumors of a move to L.A. will likely continue to be present throughout this process, but this could be a lengthy discussion. Something will have to give as the Rams at least want the ability to decide on a year-to-year basis as to the quality of their current building following the lease expiration which stipulates that the dome be up to snuff. Keep your collective fingers crossed, city of St. Louis.
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