With the Rams scoring a major victory in the recently-concluded arbitration aimed at determining what it will take to make the Edward Jones Dome a first-tier stadium, the Rams have the clear upper hand.
And the powers-that-be in St. Louis know it.
But the best they can do is point out the fact that, if the team ultimately moves, it can’t happen for two more seasons.
“To be honest, everybody ought to take a deep breath,” St. Louis County policy wonk Mike Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The reality is nothing really happens before the 2015 season.”
That’s fine, but if the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission decides not to give the Rams the upgrades to which the arbitrators decided the Rams are contractually entitled, then the Rams can leave after the 2014 season. Or in any year thereafter.
The CVC has 60 days to decide whether to do what the arbitrators have ordered. But it sounds like the CVC won’t do what the arbitrators have decided the CVC must do to prevent the Rams from becoming free agents.
“The options are all theirs. Not ours,” CVC president Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe said. “There is no specific plan at this point.”
In other words, the CVC won’t be providing the upgrades. Instead, they’ll commence shifting blame for the eventual relocation.
“[The arbitrators] did us a favor with that ruling,” Jones explained. “Now the community can have a broader conversation about the Rams. And the CVC is not the tip of the spear for that conversation.”
Actually, the CVC is the tip of the spear. Because the CVC negotiated the lease that, after the 2014 season, the Rams can disregard.
And a real “favor” from the arbitration panel would have been issuing a ruling that the CVC’s $120 million plan for upgrading the stadium was the right one. Because then the Rams wouldn’t have been able to leave.
Now, they are.
When the silver lining is “Well, we have them for two more years,” it’s like saying the glass is five percent full.