St. Louis submits $477m Rams stadium subsidy plan, NFL still isn’t happy

St. Louis submitted its formal Rams stadium proposal to the NFL yesterday, the state-appointed stadium task force sending over a 400-page document outlining what’s currently on the table. That includes:

  • $400 million in city and state cash and tax credits (plus another $77 million in future operating and maintenance costs)
  • $250 million from Rams owner Stan Kroenke (who could pay much of that off with naming rights fees)
  • $300 million from the NFL’s G-4 stadium funding program (which the league insists is capped at $200 million)
  • the remaining $50 million or so from PSL sales (which could also help pay off Kroenke’s share)

It’s not a proposal that the league is particularly happy with thanks to that extra G-4 money, but it’s still an impressive haul, especially compared to the alternatives:

It’s increasingly clear that the NFL’s Los Angeles move threat shakedown plan really isn’t going as the league hoped: Once Kroenke announced plans to move the Rams to Inglewood and the Chargers and Raiders owners immediately countered with their own hastily assembled counterplan to move to Carson, the NFL responded by giving everyone until the end of 2015 to throw money at keeping their teams, hoping that this would help determine a winner. Instead, the league has three different stadium plans that it’s not really happy with, and nothing close to the kind of consensus among owners needed to pick a winner. There’s still a chance of some kind of horse-trading taking place to allow a January vote — I dunno, Kroenke gets to move the Rams to L.A. but has to take the Chargers as a tenant and the Raiders get the St. Louis offer, while relocation fee money is shuffled around to make everyone happy — but I wouldn’t bet on it, which means this whole mess could easily drag on for another season.

This is good news, mind you, for people who don’t want to see the NFL use the L.A. situation to shake down taxpayers for huge amounts of money, though St. Louis still seems likely to end up paying a huge tab for either the Rams or a replacement team eventually. (Blame St. Louis’s idiot negotiators in the ’90s, though their current idiot negotiators certainly deserve a share of the blame.) It’s probably going to mean more painful months ahead for Rams, Chargers, and Raiders fans, though, so if you’re one of those, you might want to pick another team to chain your heart to for a while. I hear Leicester City is fun.

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31 comments on “St. Louis submits $477m Rams stadium subsidy plan, NFL still isn’t happy

  1. This is not a “shakedown”. The NFL is just goin through its relocation protocol. It’s not like the Rams have ever earnestly asked St. Louis for anything. They just want to leave.

  2. Oakland and Alameda County are still paying off the substantial Coliseum remodel debt which brought the Raiders back to Oakland from L.A. Good for Oakland’s mayor and the Alameda County Board of Supes for standing firm about not taking on more debt.

  3. Ben: It’s not entirely clear what Kroenke is up to — but anyway, I was talking about the NFL’s shakedown, not Kroenke’s. This whole drawn-out relocation process was designed to drive up stadium bids from SD, StL, and Oak, and as such has pretty much been a disaster, though they’ve had some success in StL.

  4. Inability and public unwillingness to pay for a stadium is at least as big of a factor (I’d argue much bigger actually) than any real or perceived “standing up to the NFL” by the mayor/city council.

  5. Anonymous: Inability isn’t the issue. Oakland and San Diego are both large cities with more wealth than many NFL cities that have been successfully shaken down over the years. St Louis, not so much. In fact the city least able to afford it has been the first to open up the coffers.

    Public unwillingness and “mayors standing up to the NFL” are two sides of the same coin. If you want to get re-elected, doing what voters want you to do is generally a good idea.

  6. Polling in Oakland showed the public is against publicly funding a stadium. It also showed that the stadium issue was something like #16 on the priority list. If Oakland paid for part of a stadium, voters might be unhappy, but it would be unlikely to mean much come election time.

  7. If Missouri governor Jay Nixon had a single gram of backbone, he would immediately announce that because of the record flooding going on currently in the state which will cause billions of dollars in damages, there is no longer one penny of state money to give to Kroenke!

  8. Anonymous, the polling showed that the voters considered *keeping* sports teams in Oakland a very low priority. I.e. the voters did not want local government to do much to keep the teams. I imagine that voters might in fact be very angry if local government did provide funds to build a new stadium.

    In particular see slides 39 and 40 of this presentation:

  9. Now that St. Louis knows San Diego and Oakland are not joining the bidding war, they should reduce their offer. At this point they are bidding against themselves.

  10. Well, or against the NFL’s willingness to let Kroenke walk even if he has the best offer. But yeah, they’re looking at a big winner’s curse right now.

  11. Kudos to oakland’s mayor. My feeling is that more cities will follow this lead. The nfl should take the St. Louis offer and run because I truly believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of this type of blackmail. This recent attempt by the nfl to shakedown cities has blown up in their face. Good on them. And I agree that Missouri should pull the plug on the nfl offer and use the money to help those unfortunate people cope with that horrific flood.

  12. I don’t see how anyone could consider the St. Louis stadium plan as viable. First they bypassed a public vote on using tax payer money because they knew it wouldn’t pass and a majority of people there want the money spent elsewhere. Second, they include money from Stan Kroenke who does not want to be in St. Louis so why should he work against his plan to move to Inglewood? He also would not own the stadium as he would in Inglewood. By staying put he would face a backlash from St. Louis fans that have already put him at the bottom of the league in attendance. Last, St. Louis is counting in more money from the league than the league loans out and the league has told them so. By no mean is this a solid proposal to keep the Rams. The only plan facing no major problems is the stadium already being built in Inglewood.

  13. No stadium is “already being built” in Inglewood.

    And why would Kroenke or any other team owner want to own their stadium? Then it’s just harder to threaten to leave in 10 or 20 years.

  14. It just may be that Kroenke knew that the era when sports leagues and their franchises could shake down (i.e. blackmail) cities into funding the construction of billion-dollar arenas/stadiums had ended. It never really existed here in the L.A./Orange County area, where, taxpayer rebates aside, arenas and stadiums were either funded by the owners, private entities, or both; and there was a genuine connection between the teams and the fans, regardless of season records.

    The NFL somehow thinks that because it’s the #1 sports league in the world it can shake down all these cities’ public coffers with impunity. Maybe it can in St. Louis, or San Diego, or Oakland. But they have never been able to in Los Angeles. If they are really sincere about coming back here (and I am on the fence on this point), then they’ll have to EARN their way back. Perhaps Kroenke was the one to figure it out faster than anyone realized. We’ll see.

  15. The public being against it and not being given a vote has never stopped us before. We’ve shaken down city after city and the game goes on! As for Leverage Angeles, it is what it is. A nice place to visit that will never have pro football again.

  16. The State money is not assured. MO Governor has to have state funds appropriated by the State General Assembly, controlled by Republicans and still opposed to any funding without a public vote.

  17. Erik:

    I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. There are some signs that sports cartels might be able to see the end of the ‘golden goose’ re: stadium extortion. Maybe the Loria effect is even making other owners queasy. Let’s hope so.

    Most of us tend to think of this kind of thing as having “always” gone on. In reality, while some public money has been going into stadia (public or privately owned) for generations, the relative percentage of public funding has been increasing dramatically, as has the level of finish that is considered “standard”.

    Likely no-one who went to Veterans or Cleveland Municipal Stadium is longing for a return to those kinds of facilities, but I think even ardent fans would be willing to admit that a publicly funded stadium for the enjoyment of a given sport should be about the sport and need not include (on the public dime) vast commercial developments that will be controlled by the franchise owner. We are no longer just building stadiums for franchise owners (and agreeing to pay their taxes, as well as upkeep and upgrade funding in some ridiculous cases).

    I think we have better things to do with public money than build sports stadia for professional franchises. But even if we do decide to do that, weshould on no account be building retail and office commercial space for private business owners as part of any stadium deal, in just the same way we don’t build same for non-sports related businesses (generally).

    More directly to your point; I think sports franchise owners now realize it is a matter of when it ends, not if. And they are desperately trying to be the last one to get the deal… and given the way deals go, the last one is likely to be the most lucrative in history.

    Mr. Katz publicly funded arena in Edmonton will cost (adjusted for inflation and the present dollar difference) more than 30% more than Pittsburgh’s. No one has ever been able to explain why this is deemed “necessary”, given that Pittsburgh’s arena is a shocking example of overkill in itself.

  18. The reality is the NFL doesn’t like the Inglewood project because it goes against their new stadium building business model. The league wants taxpayers subsidies for all of their owners.

  19. And yet it was fine with Santa Clara? Inglewood arguably involves more taxpayer subsidies than that.

  20. @ Neil – no, the NFL was not fine with the way Santa Clara went down. And so, as a punishment, the 49ers will remain under the ownership of the York family.

  21. “And yet it was fine with Santa Clara? Inglewood arguably involves more taxpayer subsidies than that.”

    How so?

  22. Inglewood is kicking back a bunch of sales taxes for “infrastructure,” which doesn’t entirely mean infrastructure:

  23. Which is something that most NFL teams request for new stadium projects. However, the City of Inglewood won’t be responsible for the ownership obligations of the stadium.

  24. Santa Clara is the legal owner of Levi’s Stadium. To my understanding, there won’t be a defacto municipal agency being formed for the Inglewood stadium project.

  25. The Santa Clara authority doesn’t actually have more operating and maintenance costs, though, does it? Whose name goes on the paper is less important than whose bank account the money comes from.

    Not that Santa Clara got off scot-free either, but it’s not obviously a more team-friendly deal than Inglewood.

  26. 49ers during football season, authority the rest of the time:

  27. Rams. I believe Santa Clara gets some non-football revenues to offset its non-football operating costs, though — one of our Santa Clara readers would probably know the details of this.

  28. The novelty of a new stadium receives that initial bump. However, it will quickly wears off. Reportedly, Levi’s Stadium had a good first year. Let’s see how its doing after five years. In fact, once a new stadium is build in the LA area, I expect it to displace Levi’s Stadium as the selected California location for hosting future Super Bowls.

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