Missouri governor to announce task force to decide how much ransom to pay Rams not to move

After months of silence on both sides, Gov. Jay Nixon will hold a media conference call Wednesday to discuss the Rams’ stadium situation and the next step towards keeping the team in St. Louis.

Oh boy oh boy I can hardly wait—

Expectations are that there will be no specific details on the stadium plan discussed in the conference call, but according to sources familiar with the situation, such plans will be made public by the end of the calendar year.

It is expected, however, that Nixon will talk about formation of a committee or task force to deal with the stadium issue.

Aw man, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, come on, spoilers!

There’s actually been relatively little action on the Rams stadium front since the city/county/state-controlled tourism board decided to tear up the team’s old lease the summer before last rather than give the franchise $700 million in required improvements, the legacy of the worst lease ever. (You can either interpret that as team owner Stan Kroenke waiting on public officials to make him an offer, or on him biding his time until he can move to Los Angeles, take your pick.) If nothing else, Nixon’s announcement is expected to kick off the official start of stadium dickering season, marked as always by a long, pointless Ken Belson article in the New York Times.

(For those new to this site and unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Ken Belson: Here, read up.)

The latest exercise in Belsonism wanders around through the obvious (Kroenke wants a new stadium, stadiums are expensive, voters don’t like spending money on stadiums), before arriving at what could be a point, kind of, about the possibility of the Rams relocating to L.A.:

“If they do it properly, it’s hard to see how the Rams would qualify to relocate under existing league rules,” Marc Ganis, a consultant to several N.F.L. teams, said of the governor’s task force.

The league’s relocation guidelines designed to prevent teams from moving willy-nilly are extensive. When other owners consider whether to let a team move, they look at whether a team is profitable, received public financing and made credible attempts to build or refurbish its stadium. According to Forbes, the Rams are worth $930 million, the least of any N.F.L. team, yet they generated $16.2 million in operating income last year. At least three-quarters of the owners must approve any relocation.

Yes, the NFL has rules on the books saying that it has to give existing home cities a chance to keep the team, but be serious — this is mostly just an exercise in butt-covering, so that they can justify any relocations on the grounds of “The old city didn’t mount a serious offer.” (Or to help shake down cities for serious offers. Take your pick.) If the other NFL owners decide that it’d be a good thing for Kroenke to move the Rams to L.A. — which will mostly depend on whether Kroenke thinks it’s a good idea to move the Rams to L.A., which will depend on whether he can get a better stadium deal in L.A. than in St. Louis, which right now looks doubtful but it depends on what kind of St. Louis offer has to be beat — they’re not going to let any stinking bylaws get in their way. C’mon, Marc Ganis, you’re the next best thing to an official NFL economic consultant, you should know that.

If nothing else, at least this article adds to our long list of crazy things Ken Belson has put into print, with:

The owners will have to weigh many other factors, including whether a team in Los Angeles will hurt the Chargers in San Diego, and whether abandoning St. Louis, the country’s 21st-largest television market and home to several big sponsors, will hurt the league.

That’s right, the New York Times’ chief sports business writer has wondered aloud whether leaving St. Louis for Los Angeles will hurt TV contracts and sponsorships. It is truly a strange and wonderous world we live in.


14 comments on “Missouri governor to announce task force to decide how much ransom to pay Rams not to move

  1. I do think the NFL gets more money from TV deals without a team in Los Angeles since the blackout rules don’t apply to the 2nd largest media market (basically if LA was forced to watch the Rams week in and week out more people wouldn’t watch the NFL week-to-week).

    I don’t think that was the plan when they left LA though. It was just a happy accident.

  2. The FCC eliminated *its* blackout rules. The NFL is still free to negotiate any rules it wants with its broadcast partners:

    http://www.fcc.gov/guides/sports-blackouts

  3. Which of course made the NFL mad.

    They really wanted to blame the FCC for the rule and not make it something that is negotiated between them and the TV stations, because they know the moment a blackout will occur the political pressure to waive the contract requirement will be so large they cannot resist. Especially if its a playoff game that isn’t selling out because the weather will be below zero F.

  4. Rams fans in STL are hilarious, as if this move means anything. It’s just the beginning of the pay up or we are gone threat.

    They also don’t understand that a public vote is required for public funds for a new stadium.

  5. Best news I had last night was Measure L failing (miserably). I was so glad to see that.

    (Well, that, and Washington State 594 passing, but this isn’t that kind of blog. I won’t debate that here.)

  6. I think that it’s an instance of too little, too late to keep the Rams in St. Louis. They will probably relocate back to Los Angeles for the 2015 NFL Season.

  7. John: Yes, a vote is necessary on any Rams subsidies — unless the state provides the funds, or the legislature votes to overturn the referendum requirement. See:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2013/02/05/4501/update-new-rams-stadium-totally-would-require-public-vote/

  8. There is total lack of need for any NFL team to need public handouts. The Rams made $16.2 million in operating income for 2013. The Rams will, as will all 32 NFL teams, fare much better in 2014 to 2021 because of the new TV contracts in place that provide an increase of about $80 million per year to each team as compared to 2013. Recognizing that salary cap has increased $10 million this year (from $123 million to $133 million), one can expect the Rams to show an operating income of about $86 million for 2014, if the books do not get cooked.

    To fully finance a $1 billion stadium at 5% interest for 30 years costs $64.4 million per year. It is obvious that Kroenke can easily pay for the entire cost of a new stadium, if he deems it is needed. Alternatively, he could even more easily pay for any upgrades he deems necessary for the existing stadium. Same is true for all 31 other owners.

  9. L.A. should huddle to decide how much extortion to pay St. Louis to keep the Rams in Missouri.

  10. Hi Neil,
    When I click on the “crazy things Ken Belson has put into print” link, I get http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2013/01/18/4379/panthers-want-187m-in-public-subsidies-for-promise-to-stay-put-for-10-years/ which makes no mention of Belson. What am I doing wrong?

  11. Sorry, don’t know what happened there. You can find the complete Crazy Belson archives by searching on “Belson,” though I don’t recommend doing so while operating heavy machinery.

  12. Well some of our owners can “easily pay” for a stadium and some can’t.

    But we can all “easily demand” public money for our stadium builds, and that’s the fun part of being in the Club of 32!