The mayor’s office calls it only a step in a broader process, but the Rams have now moved one giant leap closer to possibly bounding out of St. Louis.
A panel of three arbitrators have agreed that only the upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome proposed by the Rams will put the stadium among first tier of all NFL stadiums.
The lease agreement signed by the Rams in 1995 guarantees that, by 2015, the stadium will be among the top 25 percent in the league. With the parties unable to agree on a plan for making that happen, arbitration was used to determine whether the Rams’ proposal (which would cost more than $700 million), the Convention and Visitors Commission’s proposal (which would cost $124 million), or some other possibility in between would push the stadium into its proper place.
“We now have clarity,” mayor Francis Slay’s chief of staff Jeff Rainford told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The Rams will hopefully let everyone know what they really want, and we’ll see what we can do to help.”
They should want that to which they’re entitled — a first-tier stadium. And if St. Louis won’t give them the one the arbitrators say the Rams should have, the Rams will be allowed as of 2014 and every year thereafter to break their lease.
But it doesn’t mean they’ll move to Los Angeles or London or anywhere else. The end result could be a new stadium built in the St. Louis area.
The outcome depends directly on the manner in which the Rams use their leverage. Right now, the Rams have plenty of it.