The St. Louis Rams and the city of St. Louis are engaged in a fight over how much the city should have to pay to renovate the 17-year-old Edward Jones Dome. When the Rams signed their lease back in 1995, both sides agreed that by 2015, the stadium must be a “first-tier” stadium, or among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums.
Just what constitutes a “first-tier” stadium is the multi-million dollar question.
According to the AP, the city first proposed a plan that “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 then countered with a plan calling for “a new roof with a sliding panel, replacing much of the brick exterior with a glass front, even re-routing a nearby street.” Though there was no price tag included, the city says the Rams plan could cost more than $700 million.
On Friday, the city rejected the Rams proposal and now the matter will head to arbitration if the two sides can’t reach a deal by June 15.
According to the Post-Dispatch, “The Dome must be deemed first tier in each of 15 categories, though the lease doesn’t spell exactly what would make each of those areas first tier.” Those categories include:
• Fan amenities, such as box suites, club seats, lounges and any other public areas, including elevators and escalators.
• Technical areas, such as scoreboards, lighting, sound, computer and emergency systems, as well “advertising infrastructure in, on and around the facilities.”
• Revenue-generating facilities, such as food-preparation areas, shops, concession stalls and box offices.
• Behind-the-scenes areas related to the team, such as locker rooms, coaches’ offices and training facilities.
The Post-Dispatch adds, “If there’s any good news in the lease for the CVC, it’s that the number of seats and luxury boxes are excluded from first-tier consideration.”
Clearly, St. Louis offered too much in its attempts to woo the Rams back to St. Louis. But how much more should St. Louis taxpayers have to pay to subsidize a pro football team? We will soon find out…
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