SBD/May 15, 2012/Facilities

Rams' Plans For Edward Jones Dome To Cost More Than $700 Million

The Rams' proposal for Edward Jones Dome upgrades would cost over $700M
When the Rams' plan for upgrading the Edward Jones Dome went public yesterday, “the gap between the team's vision and that of the agency in charge of the building became clear,” according to Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The Rams, “not surprisingly, are calling for a more drastic -- and expensive -- renovation of the Dome than the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.” Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said that the Rams’ proposal “would cost more than" $700M, compared to the CVC's $124M proposal. Hathaway notes the plan is a “counteroffer to the CVC's proposal earlier this year, which the Rams have rejected.” The CVC plan proposed “capping the public subsidy for renovations at $60 million, calling for the team to cover the rest.” The Rams' plan “doesn't include a price tag, and it doesn't say how much, if any, the franchise is willing to contribute.” Rainford said that to come up with its own cost estimate, the CVC "hired a construction firm, which landed on $700 million.” Hathaway added the Rams’ plan “does not spell out how long construction would take or where the team would play while the building is renovated.” A source said that the team "believes it would only miss one football season at the Dome.”

THE BLUE PRINT: Hathaway noted the Rams' plan “would maintain the Dome's regular-game capacity of about 66,000, but little else would stay the same.” The plan includes creating a new eastern side to the stadium, which would “feature a large glass wall, similar to the glass wall at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis,” and allow wider concourses throughout the building. The team's plan also includes adding a new roof with an “operable roof panel” that could slide open to bring more natural light in the Dome, “reconfiguring much of the existing seating to allow more flexibility for nonfootball events." The renovations would also add two so-called "party platforms" to the end zones, “creating larger entrances at the northeast and southeast corners of the Dome, and adding an entrance in the middle of the eastern facade.” The CVC "has until June 1 to accept or reject the Rams' proposal." If a deal "isn't struck by June 15, the two sides will go into arbitration, which could take until year's end." Rainford said, “My guess is [team Owner Stan] Kroenke told his people to design a top-tier stadium. But you can't look at this and draw the conclusion that he's flipping the bird to St. Louis and he is moving to Los Angeles” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/15).

THE FINE PRINT:
Rainford said that in addition to the projected $700M cost, the Dome “would have to be closed for up to three years to make improvements." He added that because the dome "is part of the convention center, the city would also stand to lose $500 million in convention revenue.” Rainford: “The mayor will recommend the CVC reject this, but this is part of a dance and we’re very early in the choreography” (AP, 5/14). ESPN.com’s Mike Sando cited a spokesperson for Slay as saying that arbitration “would be binding for the Rams if the stadium authority accepted the arbiter's proposal.” In that case, the Rams’ lease “would extend" to '25. Otherwise, the team would go on a year-to-year lease beginning in March '15, "at which point they would be a flight risk.” Sando wrote, “Now is not the time for Rams fans to panic. The process is going to play out over time. The sides are fighting for leverage on the lease issue” (ESPN.com, 5/14). HKS designed the $700M dome rebuild for the team (THE DAILY).

STICKING AROUND:
In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes, “We now have undisputed evidence that Stan Kroenke really wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis.” Fans "won’t find that wording" in the Rams' proposal, but it is "right there in plain sight, if you are fluent in the language of between-the-lines intimations.” It is "not an over-the-top, ostentatious, football-only counteroffer that attempts to thrust the Dome to the very top of the National Football League's most extravagant stadiums.” What the Rams have “put in front of us is a design whose intent is to make the Edward Jones Dome something that works for all of St. Louis, not just the football team." If Kroenke was "trying to force the Convention and Visitors Commission to storm away from the negotiating table, then this was a horrible attempt at doing that." Burwell: "If you scrutinize the Rams' plans and compare it to other current or planned stadiums around the league, the best estimate is that a rehabbed Edward Jones Dome would most likely be right around the sixth- or seventh-best facility.” Burwell adds, “So this doesn't sound like the plan of a man trying to get out of a deal. It's more like the plan of someone who is trying to invest in the city” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/15).
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