St. Louis sues NFL over Rams relocation

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The Rams and the NFL have left St. Louis, but their business there is far from over.

The City of St. Louis, the County of St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority have sued the NFL and all of its teams (with many owners individually named as defendants) for damages arising from the relocation of the Rams.

The lawsuit generally alleges that the Rams secretly decided to move from St. Louis, that the Rams lied to St. Louis officials regarding the team’s intention to stay in St. Louis, and that the league failed to comply with the terms of its Relocation Policy in allowing the Rams to leave St. Louis.

The lawsuit, at pages 28-30, lists several false statements from Rams owner Stan Kroenke and executive V.P. of football operations Kevin Demoff. For example, Kroenke allegedly said in 2010, “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis . . . I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I’m stepping up one more time. I’m born and raised in Missouri. . . . People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I am an honorable guy.”

Also, after Kroenke bought the land that will become the site of the team’s new stadium in Inglewood, California, Demoff allegedly said that it is “not a piece of land that’s any good for a football stadium,” and that the “size and the shape aren’t good for a football stadium.” Demoff allegedly said at a 2014 fan forum that there was a “one-in-a-million chance” that the Rams would leave St. Louis.

The various plaintiffs contend that extensive actions were taken and significant expenses were incurred in reliance on the statements made by the Rams and the provisions of the Relocation Policy in an effort to develop a new stadium for the Rams in St. Louis.

“The Rams never intended to engage in good faith negotiations with St. Louis,” the lawsuit contends at page 32. “In contrast to his prior statements, Mr. Demoff admitted in a January 2016 interview in Los Angeles that he ‘always dreamed that he could be part of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.’ He also admitted that Mr. Kroenke, who inspected the California property in the summer of 2013, called him at that time and told him that the location was ‘an unbelievable site’ for a football stadium.”

The lawsuit also focuses on comments from coach Jeff Fisher after his 2016 termination, during which he admitted that, upon being hired in 2012, he knew “that there was going to be a pending move.”

Apart from pointing out alleged inconsistencies in the team’s commitment to St. Louis and intended move to Los Angeles, the plaintiffs make this strong claim about the league’s rules regarding franchise relocation: “[T]he Relocation Policy and relocation process are a sham meant to disguise the avarice and anticompetitive nature of the entire proceeding. The Relocation Policy was adopted to avoid antitrust liability by circumscribing the members’ subjective decision-making, but, in reality, the Policy is ignored whenever convenient to pursue a greater profit.”

The plaintiffs allege that the move to L.A. unfairly enriched the Rams and the NFL at the expense of St. Louis, with more than $15 million in annual lost revenue. The legal theories are breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation by the Rams and Kroenke, fraudulent misrepresentation by the league, and unlawful interference with business expectations.

The Rams declined to comment on the matter, citing the team’s policy against commenting on pending litigation. The NFL provided the following statement to PFT: “There is no legitimate basis for this litigation. While we understand the disappointment of the St. Louis fans and the community, we worked diligently with local and state officials in a process that was honest and fair at all times.”

The league will now be working diligently to defend itself against the lawsuit, which will likely remain in the Missouri court system because the Chiefs operate in Missouri. This eliminates the ability of the league to take the case to federal court, where defendants without a clear connection to a given state are more likely to get a more fair shake.

70 responses to “St. Louis sues NFL over Rams relocation

  1. Not sure how to feel about this. On one hand the league and owners should be held accountable, but if they do lose, who do you think ends up footing the bill? They will just bump up ticket or concessions prices to cover the difference.

  2. St Louis would have a better chance at a successful lawsuit than Oakland would. The Rams never seemed to even try in St Louis, but the Raiders at least carried the charade on for many years. Chargers also.

  3. Used to love the NFL now I hate it. The owners are greedy evil people who don’t give 2 ishts about the cities and communities they are in.

  4. So the NFL will be moving the Chiefs out of Missouri now? Is that what I read there?

  5. Good! So tired of billionaires playing cities against each other to line their pockets with hundreds of millions more, and abandoning loyal fans without a shred of guilt or shame. Long past time for some consequences, even if they’re small or symbolic.

  6. Sports Complex Authority have sued the NFL and all of its teams (with many owners individually named as defendants)
    As a Pack fan, they will have alot fans with stock in Wisconsin and all around the U.S. to name in the law suit. You know because of the hundreds of thousands of stocks GB sold. Yes I know they are only good for wall hangings, and sentimental reasons.

  7. It won’t matter, even if this case proceeds to trial, and St. Louis wins. Roger Goodell was willing to crawl across cut glass to get a team back in Los Angeles. Frankly, I think the league and the Rams ownership probably lied through their teeth to the city of St. Louis about this.

    St. Louis now has the distinction of being the only city to lose two NFL franchises in the last thirty years. Give it a few years, and they’ll lure another existing franchise back.

  8. hey, maybe this is how connecticut and california can put off bankruptcy for a few more years, sue all the businesses running away from them for running away from them.

  9. St. Louis seemingly has a strong case here. The Rams never seemed the least bit interested in staying there.

    I hope they win the suit, but it’ll probably get settled out of court.

  10. STL refused to honor the terms of the lease they signed, for which they’re fortunate the Rams/NFL didn’t sue them.

    No one wants to accept responsibility in any of this. It’s all the other side’s fault.

  11. It’s always entertaining when real people call out the NFL league office and NFL owners on matters of integrity. Can’t wait to hear the jibberish spin doctoring about to be sprayed by Roger Goodell.

  12. kmossg says:
    Apr 12, 2017 4:43 PM
    Not sure how to feel about this. On one hand the league and owners should be held accountable, but if they do lose, who do you think ends up footing the bill? They will just bump up ticket or concessions prices to cover the difference.


    If the NFL does indeed pass on the expenses to its fans and fans willingly pays then it’s the fans’ fault.

    It’s always about profit. Fans has been screwed over and over but they keep going to games or kept on paying for merchandise. The NFL will only stop when fans put their foot down.

  13. However odious Kroenke played it, I see nothing herein that would justify a suit. Unless he signed a binding contract with terms, his words are just that. Handshake deals the same.

    I feel for St. Louis and the fans. But these teams are the property of the owners’ (less GB). They do with them as they please, that is their right. It is also the right of competing cities to say NO to having to pay for all or part of stadiums, and they then get them or don’t.

    A team can only relocate so many times before it hurts their reputation and sales, unless they embrace their identity as a gypsy team and market it so (good luck with that, Raiders).

    If my Skins moved out of the DMV, I would be beyond pissed, but not to this silly a point.

  14. This will go away with the right amount of $$ paid to the right people. That’s all there is to it.
    PS. Fans will not be on the winning end of any NFL suit.
    It would be cool though if this case put a stop to all franchise moves for a few years!

  15. Goodell conspired with the Russians to move them to LA. I absolutely believe it. Hope St. Louis wins this one.

  16. This is so much bs.

    The local governments failed to even come close to honoring the commitments they made to Kroenke to get the Rams to St. Louis in the first place.

    Typical short sighted bureacracy. First in not living up to what they promised, and second in trying to pin the blame on someone else.

    Saint Louis got exactly what it deserved.

  17. I’d say San Diego has as good a case as STL does. Billionaires don’t go to court unfortunately.

  18. Being a Sonics fan, I understand the feeling of having your team hijacked by lying owners. But this is frivolous and won’t go anywhere.

  19. flipola says:
    Apr 12, 2017 5:10 PM
    Maybe they’d have stayed if they didn’t have to play in that dump, or could draw a crowd since the Warner era.
    And maybe the fans would have shown up if the team didn’t pick in the top five for 12 straight drafts.

  20. I hope they bury the NFL for this.
    I love how all pro sports organisations continue to say “its all about the fans” .. its all about the $$$$, always will be.

    When the Montreal Expos moved baseball to Washington it was a sham from the start. Washington wanted a team and MLB didnt want to expand. The city of Montreal should have sued as St Louis is.


  21. the city and county should have thought abut the consequences of losing the team before they were forced to LA……. I’m guessing that part of the state leans “blue”…. Not bright.

  22. Good for St Louis, they had a viable option on the table and the NFL and Kroenke ignored it. It became very obvious that this had all been planned long ago.

    I think St Louis has a good chance here. There’s going to be too many people who knew the truth on this. Someone will talk…

  23. Yes, the Ed Jones Dome was “bleak” to put it mildly. But while Silent Stan was supposedly “negotiating in good faith”, he was buying 60 acres in Inglewood, insisting it was for a Wal-Mart. The biggest Wal-Mart Supercenters are 6 acres, plus parking, so maybe 15 acres.

    I don’t seem to remember him having an excess $1.7B laying around to blow on a stadium when the Rams and St Louis were discussing renovations in 2009-2011, or rebuilding in 2014, or a brand new building in 2015.

    At the very least, the Rams and the NFL should be responsible to pay off the $144M debt through 2021 that city & county taxpayers are stuck with.

  24. They want to be reimbursed for all the money they wasted playing charades when they already knew the Rams were leaving. It’s worth a shot I guess.

  25. WAIT a minute here….

    “The plaintiffs allege that the move to L.A. unfairly enriched the Rams and the NFL at the expense of St. Louis, with more than $15 million in annual lost revenue.”

    So cities are fighting for NFL teams, and luring them with huge tax breaks, free land and billion-dollar taxpayer-paid stadiums in order to profit 15 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR????

    Does that make sense to anybody, in any way?

  26. My heart goes out to St. Louis for losing their football team. It’s a real kick in the gut.

    But darned those Rams! They left Cleveland in 1946, and it’s 2017 and we STILL don’t have a pro football team . . . .

  27. The city didn’t own the team. They (and socialists) cry about having to help pay for a new stadium then they cry that they lose money when the team leaves.

  28. I’m going to modify something I said. The local governments of the St. Louis area got exactly what they deserved. Now they have to answer to their citizens, who didn’t.

    And how are the local governments answering their citizens? By pointing fingers at someone else.

    Problem is, those same local governments drove the Rams organization away by not coming even close to honoring the commitments they’d made to the rams to entice them to relocate to St. Louis to begin with.

    So, if they want to point fingers, they should point to themselves.

  29. The stadium was a dump. The team was a loser. But the world owes St. Louis a living.

  30. Has anyone else noticed more friends expressing disgust for the current NFL product? Or finding yourself less inclined to spend your money on NFL products?

    I’ve realized I haven’t given the NFL any of my money (except tax dollars) in at least two years now. Highly doubt that will change in 2017. My interest in other sports has increased (NHL playoffs are glorious). I have 12 to 15 extra hours free time during the fall every week.

    NFL owners have chosen the quick buck over the long dollar too often lately, and it’ll start biting their backsides soon.

  31. This is really dumb. STL should be focusing on getting an expansion or relocated team. What’s done is done. The league will win this easily.

  32. Im going to enjoy watching St Louis get crushed here. First off they werent suing when they stole the Rams in the first place. Secondly if you sign a lease to keep stadium in top 25%, you better darn well live up to it. They not only didnt do that they lost in arbitration. It was ruled they had to pay 750 million in upkeep on stadium to remain in top 25%, the city refused. Which voided the lease. End of story. The rams owed nothing to St Louis after that. There wasnt going to be a renegotiation. Sure they came up with 350 million after the fact, but if still wasnt was the city agreed to do. Once again the rams owed St.Louis and their loser politicians and fans nothing. Perhaps they shouodlook in the mirror. They were the ones stealing a team and got burned.

  33. And fyi that stadium was built first to lure a team from another city so the rams nor the nfl need or are obligated to pay off the stadium that the taxpayers are paying for. How about a little fiscal responsibility and not building that stadium to steal a team from another city. Sure it sucks, but the Rams did nothing St Louis didnt let them do.

  34. It would be easier to have sympathy for the fans of St. Louis if the city hadn’t stolen the Cardinals from Chicago in 1960 and the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995.

  35. kmossg says:
    Apr 12, 2017 4:43 PM
    Not sure how to feel about this. On one hand the league and owners should be held accountable, but if they do lose, who do you think ends up footing the bill? They will just bump up ticket or concessions prices to cover the difference.
    Do you think the league ever leaves a dime on the table that they think they can get? Prices are as high as they think you will pay. This will come straight from their profits.

  36. What many of the comments are missing is that the league has guidelines in order to relocate a team. Kroenke had the legal right to terminate the lease of the Edward Jones Dome, but with 700 million dollars on the table for a new stadium the league didn’t have the right by their own bylaws to move the team. Hopefully St Louis wins, not just for St Louis, but for all the other fan bases around the league. Time to send a message to these owners.

  37. Hope St. Louis wins–make the NFL and owners think twice about swindling taxpayers to get new stadium play toys then moving on to screw more taxpayers in a new location when the original stadium starts aging.

  38. There is a lot of evidence to support this suit. Many who comment don’t know all the facts. Its more than STL and the lease of the Dome. Its about NFL guidelines. The relocation process was a sham. The NFL and SK had a deal in place a year before it was announced . SK planned to move 5 years before they moved. That’s why they hired Fisher. They asked him about relocating a team in his interview. The Rams organization tanked for at least two years to make sure there was no fan interest to help support the move. Fisher sat in on stadium plans for LA two years before the moved. There are many incriminating statements made by both Fisher and Demoff to support this suit. The Rams organization especially Demoff and Fisher along with the NFL flat out lied and misled STL. STL asked the NFL what they needed to do to keep a team and they followed their advice through the process. There is no doubt that STL has plenty of evidence to win this case , but they never will. The city can not hang with the NFL and SKs money. AS far as the NFL coming back to STL , that was never going to happen even before this suit. The only way it could ever happen is to have an owner of a team build a stadium with their own money that the NFL just loves and has to have their money and name in the NFL. Hmmm…….If we just knew someone like that…….. Oh ,wait

  39. The NFL blatantly lied to St. Louis, violated its own relocation guidelines and fixed the entire process to produce the preordained result that Kroenke could move the Rams to LA. In the process, the NFL and Goodell revealed themselves once again to be greedy, entirely unprincipled mercenaries who care about absolutely nothing but money. The so-called NFL badge is permanently tarnished by their tawdry actions. I personally will never give the NFL a nickel of my money or a minute of my time. The whole thing truly is a charade and a circus, designed to separate the suckers from their money. That having been said, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some business-friendly rule of law which will insulate the NFL from having to pay a price for its gross misbehavior.

  40. How long was the court battle with Al Davis and the NFL ? I hope someone does a 30 for 30 on the Rams relocation to LA and really dives into it. There is so much evidence out there and would love to see Demoff , Fisher, Rams organization and the NFL exposed. Im thinking the NFL network or ESPN wont be doing that anytime soon.

  41. You all base this on relocation rules. You voided the lease. You are proven to not negotiate in good faith. You put 700 million on the table, when you refused to pay 750 in arbitration you lost. The city of St Louis will never win. Only wasting more taxpaper money being childish. The rams were done with st louis the second they voided the lease.

  42. officialgame…….. The Rams got to STL because LA wouldn’t build a stadium. Very simple. If it wasn’t for SK , you still wouldn’t have a team. Get some new material.

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