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May 02, 2012

Rams reveal stadium demands, but not to you

As required by their lease, the owners of the St. Louis Rams yesterday submitted a counterproposal for keeping the Edward Jones Dome "first-tier," in response to the city's plan to roughly go halfsies with the Rams on $124 million in renovations. And the Rams' plan is ... they're not sayin':

The Rams and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the public agency that operates the Dome, are not releasing the team's proposal, even though taxpayers would likely fund the bulk of the improvements.
Officials with the CVC had said they would be happy to release the plan, but only with the Rams' OK. They initially cited a confidentiality clause in the Rams' lease for the Dome.
But on Tuesday, the CVC rejected an open-records request from the [St. Louis] Post-Dispatch for the plan, offering a new argument by citing exemptions in the state's Sunshine Law.

The dispute here appears to be whether the current lease negotiations are part of new contract talks, which are exempted from open-records laws, or part of an existing lease, which isn't. The Post-Dispatch is challenging the ruling, though it doesn't look like the paper has gone to court yet to seek the Rams documents.

The Post-Dispatch did manage to eke out one tidbit of information, citing "sources" as saying that "the Rams' plan did not include a cost estimate." If true, that's going to make it pretty hard for an arbitrator to determine which plan is more reasonable if that's where things end up on June 15, as everyone expects. (Rams owner Stan Kroenke, it turns out, not only rejected the city's initial renovation plan out of hand, but also turned down an offer to shorten the lease by five years in exchange for ditching the "first-tier" language.)

Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell, meanwhile, insists that there's nothing to worry about from the gag order, since unlike the last round of lease talks, "this go-round has some good, honest creative tension in the room." Besides, says Burwell: "The CVC will surely reject the Rams' confidential offer by June 1, and the next step will be to head to arbitration, which will probably drag on until late December. And by then, we will all know every nut and bolt of this negotiation." Assuming the Rams proposal actually spells out nuts and bolts, that is.


They actually have a confidentially clause! What kind of idiots negotiated on behalf of the taxpayer? How come everything is kept from the taxpayer except the final bill?

Posted by Craig R. Colgate on May 2, 2012 09:47 AM

They have been more open to renovation talks recently. They must have been scared off by all the resistance from Minnesota locals. Given that the arena is what, less than 20 years old, they're idiots.

Posted by Roger C. on May 2, 2012 05:00 PM

If they could keep the final bill from the taxpayers they would. In some sense, they already have and that happened long before construction.

Look at some of the tricks to get around Sunshine laws, "stadium authorities" being just the obvious one. But there's an unlimited amounts of tricks to not disclose the "hidden" costs, such as clauses to buy unsold tickets. Ask the city of San Diego about that.

As for negotiation skills, most cities have nobody as experienced as the NFL as a whole.

I live within a 70 mile radius of 12 professional teams and wouldn't attend any unless they're free tickets. Instead I go to minor league or college games as they're a lot more of a friendly trip to the wallet, your mental health and they seem to appreciate your patronage much more.

Posted by Cujo on May 2, 2012 09:02 PM

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