SBD/June 4, 2012/Facilities

CVC Rejects Rams' Dome Proposal, Intends To Negotiate Before Arbitration

City officials said the proposed Dome renovations could cost $700M
After rejecting the Rams' plan to improve the Edward Jones Dome, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission “wants to negotiate with the franchise before the Dome-renovation issue -- and, possibly, the future of the Rams in St. Louis -- is put in the hands of arbitrators this month,” according to Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The CVC “rejected on Friday a Rams' proposal that called for much of the stadium to be rebuilt with bigger VIP areas, more concession facilities and a sliding roof panel.” City officials have estimated the team's proposal could cost $700M and would “make it impossible to book large conventions during construction.” The CVC said that it “hopes to find some middle ground with the Rams before a June 15 deadline triggers mandatory, binding arbitration.” Hathaway noted although the lease requires the CVC and the Rams to meet before arbitration, "it sets few ground rules for those talks.” The lease states that any proposals made during the talks would be confidential “and the two sides are free to soften their positions without fear that those concessions will be used against them during arbitration.” It is difficult to “imagine the CVC and the Rams reaching an agreement soon with their visions for a renovated Dome so far apart” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/2). ESPN.com’s Mike Sando wrote the CVC’s rejection was “largely a procedural move.” The city of St. Louis "would have been foolish to proceed on the Rams' terms, just as the team would have been foolish to proceed under terms the city proposed earlier this year." The gap between each side's proposal, "measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, figures to shrink during arbitration.” There have been “no surprises to this point in the process." Sando: “In the meantime, pull up a sun dial. This could take some time” (ESPN.com, 6/2).

THE SOONER THE BETTER:
In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote, "Barring some sort of minor miracle happening over the course of the next two weeks where some anonymous sugar daddy emerges with a winning lottery ticket to foot the entire bill for the rehab of the Dome or the mortgage on a new stadium with all the 'top-tier' bells and whistles, the natural give-and-take, high-ball and low-ball conversations have all sent these talks towards their inevitable destination: a carefully scripted stalemate that should push them toward a lengthy binding arbitration process." The environment of the arbitration process is "where we'll discover everyone's true intentions and point us toward the ultimate end game, which is either a new or improved home for the Rams or this city's loss of yet another NFL franchise” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
The POST-DISPATCH's Bill McClellan wrote, "The way these cases muddle along in the system," the age discrimination lawsuit filed by former Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt “might come to court just as the Rams get ready to leave town.” McClellan: “Better yet, right after they have left town. The jury would probably be ready to stick it to the Rams.” However, if the Rams work out their lease by the time the case makes it to court, "that would not be so good for Hewitt” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).
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