St. Louis lawsuit over Rams move heads for discovery, NFL is screwed now

That Hail Mary lawsuit filed by the city and county of St. Louis earlier this year against the NFL for allowing the Rams to move to Los Angeles without following the league’s own relocation rules still seems like a longshot to win, but it looks like it’s at least going to go to trial:

St. Louis plaintiffs suing the Rams and National Football League over the team’s relocation to Los Angeles scored a victory in court Wednesday after a judge largely denied pretrial motions by the league and its member clubs.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Christopher McGraugh also denied motions to dismiss some 85 defendants, including all member teams and members of their ownership groups, for lack of jurisdiction. McGraugh also denied the Rams’ efforts to send the case to arbitration under the terms of the Dome lease between the team and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.

To recap, in brief: Rams owner Stan Kroenke decided to move his team to L.A. in 2016, despite having a $477 million offer on the table for a new stadium in St. Louis; the NFL’s relocation rules say that “clubs are obligated to work diligently and in good faith to obtain and to maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories”; the NFL told Kroenke, “it’s cool, go ahead and move,” mostly because Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thought Kroenke had “big balls”; and then the city and county sued for unspecified damages on the grounds on fraud and unlawful interference with the business relationship between St. Louis and the Rams. Kroenke tried to argue that this should be subject to arbitration under the Rams’ lease, though given that he’d already chosen to terminate the lease under the lease’s state-of-the-art clause so he could either demand a new stadium or move, that takes a lot of gall, you know?

The interesting part of this isn’t so much whether the plaintiffs can win — even if St. Louis can claim $100 million or so in damages, that’s a rounding error for an NFL franchise — as what they’ll now be able to pursue in the discovery phase of the trial. The NFL already complained that the plaintiffs’ discovery requests were “extraordinarily broad, burdensome and intrusive,” which makes it sound like there’s some juicy stuff they don’t want to turn over, likely involving internal communications around the relocation deliberations. While the league could choose just to pay off the city to make this whole mess go away, I kind of hope it doesn’t — as much as it would be nice to set a precedent that sports leagues have to pay the public when they allow teams to move without following their own rules, I’d find it way more valuable to hear what other stupid crap came out of Jerry Jones’s mouth.

19 comments on “St. Louis lawsuit over Rams move heads for discovery, NFL is screwed now

  1. It would be great if the disposed Jeff Fisher who was hired by Kroenke because he was familiar with team relocation and that’s what Kroenke told him was going to happen.
    Nail in the coffin.

    • I don’t know if they hired him for that but I’m pretty sure that’s whey they kept him on as long as they did.

      • He said it specifically in an interview immediately after he was fired. I think it was the STL paper but it was explicitly stated.

  2. If I were running my hometown (or the CVC or whatever) I’d accept the following as a settlement: $16 million to cover cost of new stadium development (with interest), $20 million to operate dome for the near future, pay off the bond on the dome, and clear title to Rams Park (because right now somehow that reverts to Kroenke in several years). Of course, my hometown did the original dome deal (where the Rams asked for stuff just for fun and the city capitulated) and then the city recently gave money to the Blues without the city council even carefully studying the existing lease so I imagine they will take this thing to trial and lose or the NFL will appeal for 50 years when they declare bankruptcy when football is no longer a pro sport (one can only hope haha).

  3. Man, what an opportunity to bail out of a huge mistake.

    Rams and NFL admit they were wrong, and are “forced” to move back to St Louis. And everyone is better off. The cities, the teams, the fans, even the league.

    “Welp, I guess we messed up. We’re going to fix this error.”

    (Don’t worry, I am certain this will not happen.)

    • Kroenke is having to refund some PSL money — that was ruled on last year:

  4. It would be hilarious if the NFL resolved this by just moving the Chiefs out of Missouri.

    • How would that resolve anything? The Plaintiffs are St Louis County and the City of St. Louis. The jurisdictions that host the Chiefs are one the other side of the state and aren’t in any way involved.

  5. I smell a settlement….

    Also possible is the NFL exerting it’s considerable billionaire’s boys club influence to try and move/appeal this to a more billionaire friendly court… but they probably will have to wait for some time to do this (IE: after resolution & verdict).

    At some point it’s going to occur to them that it will probably be cheaper and definitely be less embarrassing to pay off St. Louis and keep their skeletons safely locked in those beautiful billionaire’s club closets.

    • This is going to trial. We need an off field distraction for 2018. Besides, Roger Goodell doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit.

  6. I am sure STL will most likely not “win” this lawsuit, but every minute Hairpiece (Kroenke) and the NFL has to spend on this lawsuit is well worth it. I am glad STL is suing, if nothing more than to prove (and hopefully very publicly) that this is the most corrupt sports league on this planet and NFL owners care about nothing, AND I MEAN NOTHING, other than $$$$$. Fans are meaningless to these a-holes. GO STL!

    • Good points and I agree with most of them.

      If a car dealer treated his customers the way professional sports franchises do, they would quickly lose all their customers.

      So why is it that no matter how appallingly professional sports franchise owners behave (either toward their paying customers or in other areas), fans still line up to give their money to them?

      Some fans stoop to being unpaid lobbyists for their corporate masters, volunteering both their time and money to convince their government to raise their own taxes to provide an even higher standard of living for the owners and players (less so) while becoming poorer themselves?

  7. All the NFL needs to make this go away is a second expansion city to partner with STL…and a VERY elegant solution would be to put that second expansion team in San Antonio.

    • Jerry & his pals will not allow a team in San Antonio.

      With many other issues to resolve, and an easy to balance 32 teams, expansion is not on the radar for the NFL for the foreseeable future.