Talks Between Rams, City Officials Expected To Turn Toward Building New Stadium
Three arbitrators on Friday ruled that the Rams’ "proposal for a dramatic renovation" of Edward Jones Dome -- estimated to cost at least $700M -- was the "only way to make the building a 'first tier' football facility," according to Nicholas Pistor of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC), which operates the dome, now has "30 days to decide if it will try to enact the Rams’ plan." But CVC attorney Greg Smith on Friday said that was “unlikely.” If the CVC "rejects the plan, as expected, the Rams’ lease at the Dome will go to a year-to-year basis starting in March 2015, freeing the team to potentially leave St. Louis." But talks between local leaders and the Rams are "expected to shift toward the idea of building a new stadium, on a new site." Arbitration hearings began in mid-January and "lasted about two weeks," with Friday's ruling coming "earlier than the Rams and city officials expected." In the end, the arbitrators "found several deficiencies with the Dome." They wrote in their ruling, "First, the facilities as a whole are lacking, principally because of the small footprint on which the dome is built. It is the smallest in the NFL." They also said the building “lacks openness, light and air” and found obstacles to "adding club seats, and providing those seats with adequate leg room, as well as obstacles to providing fans in suites ... with good views of a new center-hung scoreboard" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/2). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his state of the league address Friday said the league wants to make sure the Rams "get the stadium issue resolved because they do need to have the kind of stadium that will help support them for the long term in St. Louis." Goodell: "I believe that the business community and the officials in St. Louis want that outcome. I believe [Owner] Stan Kroenke wants that outcome and they're all working together to try to get there. The process is unfolding" (NFL Network, 2/1).