It’s June, so it must be Rams move threat time

It’s what’s becoming a bit of an annual ritual, talk of the “looming” St. Louis Rams stadium crisis has started up again. The excuse, this time: A group of St. Louis business leaders visited the Indianapolis Colts stadium to see what it takes to make an NFL team happy.

The answer: a big stinking pile of money.

In Indy, three years of negotiations led to a deal in which tax dollars covered most of the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium, and in which the Colts get the vast majority of gameday revenue (concessions, signage, etc.). That may not sound like a good deal for the city, but that’s not how these people see it.

The way Lucas Oil Stadium’s promoters see it, the stadium hosts “100 non-football events a year, from fire department conventions to the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of the Indiana governor’s daughter.” Of course, many of those conventions are actually booked into the adjacent convention center (which uses the stadium for its big plenary events, just as the Hoosier Dome that it replaced was previously), and you have to hope that the governor’s daughter didn’t get married just because there was a new stadium to have the rehearsal dinner in.

The more interesting part of the story here, meanwhile, is buried at the bottom of the article, where Kevin Cahill, a former member of the commission that built the Rams’ current stadium (way back in 1996) and who’s on the RCGA trip summed up the city’s options this way: “We can’t shrug our shoulders and say (to the Rams), ‘you can leave.’ I don’t think that’s the right answer. Just building them a new stadium, I’m not sure that’s the right answer either. Maybe we need to find some middle ground.”

That smells suspiciously like either “major renovation” or “lease concessions,” though I suppose by middle ground he might have meant “build them a new stadium, but ask them to chip in a few million dollars.” And, of course, Cahill doesn’t necessarily represent the business group, and the business group doesn’t necessarily represent the power brokers who’ll actually be negotiating a Rams deal one of these years. But if you’re looking for tea leaves, read ’em and weep.

7 comments on “It’s June, so it must be Rams move threat time

  1. So Neil, why do they want a new stadium when the one they’re in is only 15 years old?

  2. As the economist Rod Fort once said when I asked him the expected shelf life of a new stadium, “From the perspective of a sports team owner, I don’t see anything wrong with a new stadium every year, if I’m not the one paying for it.”

  3. St. Louis delegation:

    Make the CIB throw open the books on Lucas Oil Stadium, and make Indy tell the absolute truth about the $20 million in red ink (every year!) caused by this NFL stadium alone.

    Then, head back to St. Louis, and try and tell yourselves that the Rams’ owners won’t be squeezing you for the same deal that the Colts’ owner, Jim Irsay, got.

    NFL teams make money. NFL **stadiums** do not.

    My own city of Santa Clara, California, is about to find out how true that really is.

    Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
    Santa Clara Plays


  4. In light of the Rod Fort quote above it should be noted that TWA Jones America Dome had $30 million dollar renovations in 2009.

  5. Wow,

    How did a $750 million stadium jump to $1.1 billion? That may be the cost of the stadium and convention center addition, but the stadium alone was around $750 million. Yes, alot of money, but accuracy is still important.

  6. As to our CIB (Indianapolis) we can’t see or examine the books of the Colts or the Pacers. So we, the taxpayers of Indianapolis, are to take the word of the Pacer’s management that the Pacers have lost money most of the last 20+ years but can’t verify that statement because the Pacers won’t open their books. Currently the Pacers are ‘negotiating’ with the CIB to get free maintenance for Conseco Field House, unlike the Colts who pay zero maintenance for Lucas the Pacer’s pay the annual maintenance for Conseco which is reportedly 15-18 million per year. Every other day we see a puff piece in the Indianapolis Star touting the economic benefit of the Pacers, btw Neal’s name was dropped in today’s article.

    In this town the CIB and our elected officials can’t say no to pro sports owners. At the merest suggestion of discontent from our poor billionaire owners we open up the taxpayer’s wallets.

    This year the Pacers need more money and next year the Colts will need more money for Peyton’s next contract.

  7. “This year the Pacers need more money and next year the Colts will need more money for Peyton’s next contract.”

    Indianapolis would have been instructional for us here in Santa Clara, CA – but unfortunately, we couldn’t get enough people to listen to you folks.

    As for player contracts, same here – we learned that some positions on the field earn more per year than the 49ers will pay us in Ground Rent in FORTY YEARS.

    Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
    Santa Clara Plays