A while back I mentioned how occasionally there’s just not that much to talk about for the open threads, and during those occasions I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about a subject I’m passionate about but doesn’t get a lot of attention, which is relocation.
Here are the posts so far:
Last time I went over how the Rams ended up in St. Louis, and the numerous mistakes St. Louis made in the process. The sum of these mistakes is that St. Louis went from having a team with a long history who wanted to stay there to a team who would be willing to leave at the first opportunity and had the ability to do so.
This is because of a very specific clause in the lease that St. Louis offered to the Rams. This clause is the reason the Rams are back in Los Angeles now.
St. Louis promised the Rams that the Edward Jones Dome would be among the top 25% of stadiums in the NFL for the next 30 years, and if this wasn’t met and St. Louis refused to pay for the necessary renovations then the Rams would essentially get permission to leave whenever they wanted (more on this in a bit).
There was one big problem with this (other than it being horrifically stupid). The Edward Jones Dome failed to meet this criteria as soon as it was built. The Rams under the ownership of Georgia Frontiere decided to waive it in exchange for a bit of cash when it first came due in 2005, but Stan Kroenke wasn’t going to have any of it when it came due again in 2013.
At this point St. Louis once again started making mistake after mistake that would ultimately cost them an NFL team.
Mistake #4 – Waiting Too Long to Start on a New Stadium
Since Kroenke decided to use this provision to its maximum advantage, it set in motion a series of events that were basically a complicated way of giving St. Louis the finger.
To keep it simple, both St. Louis and the Rams would submit renovation plans to an arbitrator, then the arbitrator would decide which one would fulfill the requirements of the lease. Naturally the Rams proposed a very expensive renovation plan, while St. Louis proposed a very cheap one.
And to the surprise of nobody, the arbitrator decided on the Rams’ plan. From St. Louis’ perspective, however, their plan was completely untenable. They would be spending enough money to build an entirely new stadium just to extend the lease 10 years.
The only hope they had of keeping the Rams was to build that entirely new stadium.
Naturally since this was so obvious from the beginning, St. Louis immediately jumped into action to start planning how to fund and build a new stadium to keep the Rams.
Except no, they never did.
Then Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was the one to step in and appoint a stadium task force, and this was in November of 2014. Because St. Louis failed to uphold their end of the lease, the Rams would get a series of 1-year options on the Edward Jones Dome (essentially giving them permission to leave) starting in 2015.
That’s right, despite knowing that they would need to build a new stadium for years (even before 2013, you could argue as far back as 2008 or even earlier), they waited until literally 2 months before the Rams would be allowed to leave to even start looking in to it. And even then they didn’t even do it, they had to have the governor do it!
Considering how late to the game they were, and how difficult the task of funding a new stadium was (a topic I’ll cover next topic), they actually got pretty close. But they were $100 million short, and the funding they did have wasn’t enough, so the NFL allowed the Rams to relocate to Los Angeles.