Back in 1995 the St. Louis Rams officially adopted that moniker after their move from Los Angeles. Since that point the club has been playing its home games in the same facility, the Edward Jones Dome. After an arbitration decision went in favor of the team earlier this year, the franchise may be taking its first steps out from under the Arch as a result.
A compromise failed to be reached between the two sides of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) and the Rams on a price tag for the needed renovations. The CVC proposed a modest plan to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome to which the Rams countered with a $700 million plan of their own. Needless to say the chasm between the two sides failed to be bridged forcing arbitrators to rule on the matter in court.
After the decision went in favor of the Rams, the CVC informed the team that they would not be enacting the plan set forth by the franchise. Significant public funding would be required to make the upgrades ruled upon by the arbitrators, and taxpayers are already financing the dome. The 30-year bonds that financed the building initially will total $720 million. The state of Missouri pays $12 million per year toward that debt while the city and St. Louis County pay $6 million.
The possibility remains that the Rams could build a new facility in St. Louis County, but there are no official plans for anything like that to begin or word on whether plans for such a facility have even been discussed. The current lease can be broken by the team following the 2014 season as result of the language in the deal that says if the building is not among the top tier NFL stadiums, the Rams have the ability to opt out.
This could present a new phenomenon that hasn’t been seen in the league of an entire team being free agents as opposed to just one individual player. Last year the Rams made the commitment to play a home game in London for three consecutive seasons, and that could become a part of a transition into a permanent move overseas.
The league seems determined to expand its borders outside of the United States, and this ongoing saga could provide the ideal situation to do so without ruffling feathers. Playing two to four home games per year in London would allow the NFL to feed its curiosity with expansion while providing the Rams with a venue.
Los Angeles also remains in the cards, but London seems like a stronger possibility given the league’s growing fascination with a team abroad. The Rams could easily transition from a team playing under an Arch to a team playing alongside Big Ben (and I don’t mean Ben Roethlisberger).