Though Friday’s news that the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission has rejected the Rams’ proposal for the upgrading of the Edward Jones Dome caused many to believe that the proverbial line in the sand for relocation had been drawn, the truth is that the expected rejection of a $700 million request represents the next step in an orchestrated process that may, or may not, send the Rams packing.
As mentioned in Saturday’s one-liners, negotiations will continue in advance of the June 15 submission of the case to arbitration. Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains the limited steps that will remain once the arbitration process commences.
Initially, the two sides will haggle over the identity of the three arbitrators. If they can’t agree on their own, they’ll take turns striking names from a list of 13 provided by the American Arbitration Association. At least seven of the candidates must be retired judges who live neither in Missouri or California, where the Rams now reside and where they could move as soon as 2015.
Once selected, the arbitrators will be charged with crafting a final plan for bringing the stadium into the NFL’s first tier — or, in other words, among the top eight venues in the league.
After the arbitrators issue a decision, the Convention and Visitors Commission will have 60 days to make a decision of its own. And the options will be simple: accept the plan adopted by the arbitrators, or do nothing.
If the CVC does nothing, the Rams can terminate the lease and leave after the 2014 season. Alternatively, the Rams and the CVC may agree to extend the relationship on a year-to-year basis — an indefinite and uncertain approach that won’t be good for anybody.
Still, any desire by the Rams to relocate ultimately can be blocked, if the CVC chooses to accept the outcome of arbitration. But that outcome will entail the dome entering the short list of elite stadiums, which means that either way the Rams will win.