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SBD/10/Leagues Governing Bodies
NFL ATTORNEY PUTS EAGLETON ON THE SPOT OF SECRET FEE
Published October 10, 1997
The Rams "kept secret" from the other 29 NFL teams an agreement with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) that the CVC "would pay up to" $7.5M of fees to relocate from CA, according to William Lhotka of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Former U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, who lead the civic group FANS, Inc., said that the deal was "contained in a document separate" from documents that the Rams turned over to the NFL in its application to move in '95. Lhotka reports the "admissions cast a cloud over the" CVC's $130M antitrust suit, which "contends that the NFL acted arbitrarily, and perhaps unethically, in forcing the city to pay" $20M of a $29M Rams relocation fee. Eagleton confirmed that the fee was withheld from the NFL, since offering information "about the fee agreement would have been an invitation to the league to extract as much as it could." In further questioning from NFL attorney Frank Rothman, Eagleton said the league never discouraged FANS, Inc. from talking to any NFL team or interfered with its talks with the Rams. CVC attorney Alan Popkin has "alleged that the NFL, through its guidelines, rules and antitrust practices, had discouraged" teams from bidding on St. Louis and its new stadium which "forced" the city to give the Rams a "deal far superior than the team would have gotten in an open-market atmosphere" (POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).