The STL Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) voted to enter arbitration with the Rams concerning future renovations to the Edward Jones Dome. The two sides will choose three arbitrators to hear the case, which could last for six months or more. There was no way that the Rams were going to accept the CVC’s rather low $48 and $124 million offers to renovate the Dome. And there was no way that the CVC was going to accept the Rams’ $700 million renovation plan.
The CVC’s proposals didn’t do enough to make the Dome a first-tier stadium, and the Rams’ offer, while spectacular, likely wouldn’t have been approved by city taxpayers. Now the arbitrators will decide between the proposals presented by both sides, or they can create their own plan. Either way, it’s going to be a long process.
“Hopefully with the assistance of an arbitrator we’ll be more successful in coming to a conclusion that is in the best interest of both parties,” CVC spokesman Brian Hall said. The Rams declined comment.
The dome was built with taxpayer funding from the city, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri. The 30-year lease signed when the Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles prior to the 1995 season requires that the stadium be among the top quarter of NFL stadiums in 15 separate categories. If it isn’t, the team can break the lease after the 2014 season, raising concerns the Rams might leave St. Louis.
Negotiations began early this year. The CVC privately proposed to the Rams a modest $48 million plan in January that would have been publicly funded. When that was rejected, the CVC in February announced a plan for $124 million in improvements that included better amenities and a massive new scoreboard. It would have required to Rams to pay for $64 million of the cost. Voter approval in the city and county would have been required for the rest.
The St Louis Rams did not intend for their proposal to be publicly released but Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released it against the team’s wishes on May 14, 2012 following open records requests from media. The arbitrators will either endorse the CVC plan, the Rams’ plan, or develop their own version. The CVC will then have 60 days to decide whether to move forward with that plan or allow the Rams to end the lease.