St. Louis asks NFL to pay off remaining debt on Rams stadium, doesn’t hold collective breath

St. Louis City Board of Aldermen President Lewis E. Reed has sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to pay off the $36 million in remaining debt on the Jones Dome now that the Rams are moving to Los Angeles:

12321229_893924624061853_8661786470950347268_nLet’s be clear about one thing: This is never ever ever ever ever going to happen. Reed’s predecessors in public office signed a horrible deal agreeing to build a stadium for the Rams while letting the team move out before it was paid off if they wanted to (and could show it was no longer “state of the art,” which was always going to be a formality), so if Goodell replies to this in any way other than ineffectually trying to stifle a guffaw with the back of his hand, every human on earth, including Reed himself, will be stunned.

That said, as a way of publicly shaming the NFL by saying, “Guys, we built you a stadium, then you yanked our team away before we’d even paid the last installments, you suck,” it’s fine enough. Or would be if the NFL had any capacity for shame. Maybe it’ll at least get St. Louis some public expressions of sympathy.

10 comments on “St. Louis asks NFL to pay off remaining debt on Rams stadium, doesn’t hold collective breath

  1. I thought STL might have better luck billing the NFL for the $16 million spent on their new stadium committee. Since that’s where they were deceived. Believing the NFL’s relocation guidelines about having a stadium plan in place would prevent the team from moving. (Although it says quite clearly in the fine print that if an owner is willing to drop nearly 3 billion dollars, he can move anywhere here wants.)

  2. Probably would have been a better letter had they actually written the team name correctly. Using “Ram’s” means the team was the St. Louis Ram. Now St. Louis officials may feel like they were rammed, but that doesn’t excuse what looks like a hastily written demand letter. The demand letter was not well thought out – just a publicity stunt.

  3. The NFL is incapable of shame. I hope St. Louis expierence with these scammers serve as a wake up call to all cities. What a waste of money and effort for St. Louis. I believe the rams were as good as gone the day Stan bought the team.

  4. Because of the crappy deal they signed, there’s no hope this will work. But at least they’re trying.

  5. The inadvertant line break in the last paragraph is pretty embarrassing, too. But then, with $36 million still to pay off on that stadium, it’s not like the city can afford to hire proofreaders.

  6. Neil, if they had really wanted to write it correctly, it would have been addressed to the corporate entities rather than any team name. As you well know, the team name is just one of the assets. Each ownership group is incorporated under the real name. Usually it would be something like, “Pro Football Club of St. Louis”. That’ who any legal proceedings would go to.

    So, there wasn’t a lot of research (or proofreading) done for this press release. Pure PR…

  7. They’re asking the league to pay this off, not the Rams. So they got the addressee right, at least.

  8. @Neil deMause
    I read your book over the weekend and building the TWA Dome in St. Louis was a disaster from the start. They built it to get an expansion team and when that didn’t happen they basically gave the Rams everything they could ever want (including the kitchen sink). I don’t feel bad for them one bit because as you put it, getting the Rams came at an astronomical cost to the taxpayers. Shame on the St. Louis politicians who not only built the stadium, but also screwed the tax payers for years by agreeing to the outrageous demands of the Rams.

    From the book:
    Take a sample stadium-say, the TWA Dome in St. Louis. Built in the early 1990s to lure an NFL expansion franchise to town, the new dome was bypassed in favor of Charlotte and Jacksonville, leaving the city desperate to lure an existing franchise to relocate. In 1996, they found one-the Los Angeles Rans-but at an astronomical cost to taxpayers.
    The TWA Dome was constructed entirely at government expense, with $301 million raised by selling general-purpose bonds. That $301 million, plus interest, will be paid back at $24 million a year over 30 years; a boost in the county hotel tax will pay for about a quarter of the sum, and the rest will be paid out of the general city and state treasuries. The 113 luxury boxes and 6,500 club seats will generate $1.8 million per year in tax subsidies via the business-entertainment deduction, paid for by the federal treasury. U.S. tax payers will likewise be responsible for an additional $6 million a year in subsidies through the federal tax exemption of the bonds. Trans World Airlines agreed to pay $1.3 million a year (plus inflation) to plaster its name on the dome, nearly a million of which will go to the Rams. Total subsidy: $1.07 billion over 30 years.
    That ammounts to a public cost of $36 million a year, while the Rams annoual revenues are expected to leap by more than $15 million. And according to the teams’ brand-new lease, if the stadium does not remain among the most lavish in football for another ten years, the Rams can then leave town for more lucrative turf-or demand further improvements.

  9. Splitting hairs a bit, but hasn’t the stadium liability pretty much always been “unfunded by game day revenues”? It certainly hasn’t been fully funded by game day revenues…

    I agree, this letter will not draw a tear from any NFL owner’s eye, nor will it likely draw any sort of response (possibly beyond, “thank you for your letter. We love St. Louis and would love to come back, someday, if a team is ever available again and you are willing to plunk down $2bn in subsidies. Thanks, Rog).

    It’s purpose is to embarrass the NFL… this will also fail, as many have noted, for the NFL is utterly shameless in every dealing it has. Witness it’s treatment of retired players on who’s backs (and brains) the present business was built.

    You don’t get much lower than that in this world.