NFL Concludes STL Effort Falls Short, Rams Deemed Eligible for Relocation

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Today, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told team owners that none of the three markets being discussed for relocation to Los Angeles have presented a stadium plan that would prevent relocation (the text of the commissioner’s report regarding St. Louis is below). Being approved for relocation is not the same as being allowed to relocate, which can only be approved by a vote of team owners.

Exactly which team(s) will end up in Los Angeles will be determined by a vote of owners, with 24 of the 32 needed to approve a move. Three teams, the Rams, Raiders, and Charges have filed for relocation, all hoping to end up in LA. Owners are expected to resolve the LA question next Tuesday and Wednesday at their meeting in Houston.

Only St. Louis has seen any serious stadium proposal produced. In short, Goodell is saying that the St. Louis effort falls well short of satisfying the NFL. It’s a similar message Kroenke sent to the NFL to support his bid to leave the city.

While significant political power, time, effort, and more than $10M has been spent to put together the St. Louis stadium effort, shortcuts have been taken. These appear to be front and center for Goodell. There’s opposition at the statehouse, litigation concerning the need for a public vote, and a financial shortfall with just 11% of the metro region (St. Louis City) contributing directly to the stadium.

In its report to team owners, the NFL cites the arbitration decision that concluded the Rams’ current facility needed $700M to become “top tier”, which is required per the team’s lease. From this, the league concludes, “…the proposal would provide substantially less public support for the Rams than the support to which the club was entitled…”.

With likely just a few days before the long awaited decision comes, more and more scenarios are being offered. 1) Owners could vote for a Kroenke’s move to LA and end the process there. 2) Kroenke’s approved for LA and the Chargers are offered opportunity to share the Rams new stadium. 3) Raiders and Chargers are sent to LA and Kroenke is allowed to move elsewhere (San Antonio? Toronto? London?). 4) Some combination of the above, with St. Louis getting a future team, or the Raiders. 5) Kroenke doesn’t get LA, sells the Rams, who stay in St. Louis, and buys a different NFL team. 6) Just about anything you can imagine.

[nextSTL coverage of the Rams and relocation]

From the Commissioner’s report to NFL owners regarding St. Louis via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal:

The State, City and RSA believe that they have all necessary authority in connection with the public funding. Nonetheless, nearly three-fourths of the Missouri General Assembly members have publicly expressed their opposition, arguing that such public funding should be approved by the legislature or by public vote, and, as noted above, that issue is in litigation. The prospect of opposition by a substantial majority of the Missouri General Assembly, as well as the pending litigation, could result in appropriation risk and uncertainty that cannot be entirely dismissed.

The public funding obligations would be contingent on, among other things, $300 million of NFL League-level funding, $250 million from the Rams, and a minimum of $160.4 million of net proceeds from PSLs. This proposal would require the League to provide $100 million more than the maximum amount for which any club is eligible under the League’s G-4 program.

Notwithstanding the fact that the amount of public funding proposed by the City and State is substantial, the Rams have expressed concerns that the market potential would not yield an economic return sufficient to justify the very substantial private investment (for both construction as well as 30 years of maintenance and improvements) that the Task Force’s proposal would require. The Rams have estimated that the club’s overall financial position would deteriorate under the proposal, even utilizing the revenue projections of the public authorities. In addition, the proposal would provide substantially less public support for the Rams than the support to which the club was entitled, according to the independent arbitration panel, under the existing stadium lease; public officials estimated that the cost to complete the renovations endorsed by the arbitration panel would have been about $700 million.

The factors discussed above—including the size of the private investment required in this market (including additional amounts from the League) and the risk attributable to political opposition—raise significant concerns about the certainty and long-term viability of the Task Force’s stadium proposal to retain the Rams.

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  • resident

    I second the motion for an NBA team

  • Steph

    A Basketball team would be a great secondary option. Probably more market interest and the Chafitez isn’t a bad venue to consider for it either.. just sayin 🙂

    • Chicagoan

      No way the NBA would put a team in St. Louis to play in Chaifetz Arena. 10,600 seats is far too small. They’d play in the Scottrade Center, I assume.

  • The Louminator

    All of STL should just breathe. We remain the 18th media market. That said, “the show me” attitude of the state creates conflict and discourse. The NFL and Stan see this at its most visceral level.

    • matimal

      Are ‘media markets’ still meaningful concepts?

      • The Louminator

        Good question. Well, the Cubs certainly think so? How do they sign thier new TV deal without those rankings? Advertising is certainly only one part of a teams attraction, but population also is a major factor. That noted….RAMS are gone….

        • matimal

          My nephew lives in Cincinnati. He’s able to watch all live broadcasts of Manchester United soccer from England, yet has never entered the bengals stadium he’s drive by hundreds of times. He knows the sponsors of Manchester United and has been to several matches. Does he count as part of the Bengals ‘media market?’ He’s hardly alone from what I’ve experienced with the younger generation.

      • Kimberly R Hampton

        Yes, media markets are still meaningful concepts. If you want an example, look at the Big 10 tv network. Part of the reason the Big 10 added Rutgers and Maryland was because adding them allows the Big 10 network to go into the NYC-Philly-Baltimore-DC tv market.

        • matimal

          “tv market”? I haven’t watched a local tv channel in years. This is a fading dynamic. It would be better to get out in front of the new media trends.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Media markets aren’t just geographic. The point is how many people will pay to watch? That’s the media market and it’s driving the value of pro sports teams, college conferences, and more.

          • matimal

            You make my point much better than I did. The Cardinals have a much more geographically widespread ‘media market’ than the Rams ever managed to create. The Cardinals fan base in Western Kentucky, northwestern Tennessee, and northern Arkansas is substantial.

          • Kimberly R Hampton

            if you’re going to talk about the Cardinals geography and market, then you have to credit an old technology, radio. the reason the Cardinals are able to pull in 3+ million a year is because, years ago (and today), KMOX can be heard for miles and miles. (I used to hear it in the DFW area when I was an undergrad)
            Football is a different. it is a tv sport. no football team can do what the Cardinals can do; at least not in the same way. football markets are much more geographically based–although not totally.

          • matimal

            Today, fans follow any team they want online.

          • Kimberly R Hampton

            That’s not what I said, and you know it. I said that “media market” means the number of eyes available to buy subscription services. [my exact words were,”this isn’t about local tv. this is about subscription tv. big difference.”] That’s why I used the Big 10 Network as an example. It has a far bigger reach now because the additions of Rutgers and Maryland allow the Big 10 Network to be available for subscription in the NYC-Philly-Baltimore-DC market(s). Just like the SEC Network is now available to people in Missouri when it wasn’t before Mizzou went into the SEC.

            I said that the Cardinals media market is different because of its history of being on the radio (and KMOX’s reach). I firmly believe you cannot compare the Rams to the Cardinals in this. It’s unfair to both.

          • matimal

            I’m not saying that you said that. I said it. Someone in Hawaii can be a Cardinals fan now. Why not see this new reality and build St. Louis-based brands that will reach far beyond the fading legacy of “media markets?”

          • Kimberly R Hampton

            Because media markets are not a fading legacy. The Big 10, SEC, and Longhorn (plus many other) networks show that.

            Yes, somebody in Hawaii can be a Cardinals fan now. But they can only do that because of the MLB network and its ability to go across multiple platforms. (and in Hawaii, the Cardinal fan is probably getting it off satellite, which they definitely pay for). In order to access that, you must subscribe.

            Media markets are not fading. In fact, they are becoming more precise. And if a team (or group of teams) can manage how one can access games, that’s gold.

          • matimal

            GEOGRAPHIC media markets are fading. You’re describing something else.

          • Kimberly R Hampton

            this isn’t about local tv. this is about subscription tv. big difference. the Big 10 network is a subscription network; and the more eyeballs that are available, the more subscriptions they will get.

  • Kimberly R Hampton

    Here’s the rub that many in St. Louis don’t seem to want to understand (not saying that about anybody here, but the stadium nuts); Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood with no public money.
    The NFL had long said that the most they would contribute is $200million. What was the point in the Task Force submitting a proposal that needed the NFL to contribute $300million. It was a non-starter the second it landed on NFL desks in New York.
    So all the strum-und-drang over something that was dead before arrival never made sense to me. Especially when one considers that the reason St. Louis County was removed from the equation was because Stegner said that there would have to be a public vote.
    People of the region have been dis-served by so many in the process. The cause was really lost once the Rams won in arbitration. And, instead of being graceful losers, leadership in StL dragged out a process they had no chance of changing the outcome of. Time, talent, and money have been wasted on a project that could have been used to deal with the real issues of the region. But, as usual, that would have been too much like right.

    • John R

      That’s pretty much spot on…. the only thing I’d say though is that it is still possible that there is some other owner out there that may show interest in this proposal. The problem there though is that nothing would be able to be approved by NFL until next year at the earliest so any potential relocation would be dependent upon the support of the next governor.

      • omomma

        God help us if there is some other owner.

    • Joe Sheehan

      I completely agree Kimberly. I’m glad you helped highlight that perspective.

    • omomma

      How many St. Louisans do you you think don’t understand this? Couple or three maybe, the folks who like to paint their faces and bellies with blue rams horns. The rest of us totally get it, and have for a very long time. “Time, talent and money have been wasted…” You nailed it right there.

      • Kimberly R Hampton

        I think you would be surprised at how many don’t really understand what’s going on or have their head in the sand.

  • matimal

    This may be the thing to break the back of the old-boy’s club in St. Louis. It will show they can’t get things done and make space for a new politics that is more flexible, networked, and that allows many more points of contact than the old tribal political alliances that have run, or tried to run, St. Louis for so long.

    • Guest

      Lol…are you talking about the incredibly out dated, looking down their selfish noses old-boys club? The one’s who’ve made downtown an undesirable place not to be taken seriously by the rest of the country and even too many of it’s very own suburbanites? The ones who are responsible for St. Louis to fall from a top tier city to a less than mid tier city, and seem hell bent on make it less so, with boring, uninspired, pie-in-the-sky ideas? If so, I sure hope these old-boys have finally met their match. It’s about time they bite the dust big time, so I hope you’re right.
      Anyone with an ounce of common sense is tired of the lies that new stadiums will revive downtown. None have, none will (including this hideous fiasco) as past projects have very well shown.
      They avoid like the plague the idea that the brunt of corporate St. Louis needs to be exactly where it was designed to be, where it makes sense…where the main arteries all converge, where’s there’s plenty of room to build without destroying remaining architectural treasures. Stadiums, no matter how fancy-schmancy and expensive won’t deliver to anyone but the big-boys in any city. The problem is that our local big-boys ain’t nearly so big any more…or smart (in fact, they’re inexcusably stupid because they cater to themselves, and can’t even see…or refuse to see…the damage their own folly has done). “We killed the goose that lays the golden eggs because we were hungry” would be the ideal epitaph for them.

    • omomma

      If only…

      • matimal

        St. Louis’ old boys club is not all-powerful. It has it’s limits. We need to look for those limits.

  • Naomi Sarina Swiney

    So, does this mean we can get that aquarium idea that was floating around. I’m a lot more excited about that. Just saying.

    • spif

      > floating around

      I see what you did there.

      • Naomi Sarina Swiney

        😉

    • omomma

      Oh hell no. No rams, no sharks and sting rays either. People around here aren’t smart enough to know those things don’t live in the Mississippi. [Those are the same people who want the Rams to stay in St. Louis and will build a new stadium for them].

      • Adam

        You’re being unnecessarily harsh toward the “people around here”. I’m guessing quite a few people “around here” who don’t attend Rams games would actually attend an aquarium, not to mention tourists. We already have stingrays (one word, by the way) at the zoo and they seem pretty popular.

  • Dave

    Billionaires who pay millionaires want Joe public to fund their continued high life existence. No thanks, bye Felicia. It’s one thing if the fans of NFL teams fund this on their own, but tax payers should not fund this, not one cent. NFL teams do not bring all the claimed money and tourism to cities. Waste of money.

    • Chicagoan

      Yeah, I’ve never bought the argument that the NFL is this money-making machine for cities. You get eight regular season home games and what, a max of three playoffs home games? And, that’s if your team is the #1 seed in the whole conference.

      I know that with football, you’re bringing in 60K-80K versus about 40K for baseball and 20K for basketball and hockey, but I still think it’s more beneficial to have those other sports than football.

      If you’re trying to build a new stadium today to meet the NFL’s criteria, it just seems like they hold cities hostage. They require crazy amount of parking infrastructure, prime places of land, and significant buy-in from the public.

      The fact that St. Louis County or any of the other counties aren’t involved is a joke, considering those are the people who are cruising in on the highway every Sunday to tailgate and go to the game. Why should they be able to benefit from a new, world-class stadium, but not have to contribute one bit?

    • Eric J. Chambers

      Yep! Bye Felicia! Love it! Just Say No To “Billionaire Welfare!”

  • John R

    I believe the NFL is a junk organization… about what you can expect for a Billionaire’s Club. But I agree that the Task Force came up short if you compare it to the new Vikings stadium, which many see as the baseline for such deals. There, the NFL contribution was comprised of the G4 program plus PSL’s + naming rights + about 2 dollars and 78 cents from the junk owner, Zygi Wilf. Here, again we’re about $100M short on the public side under NFL math.

    If the County had participated, the Task Force could have put together a more rock solid proposal (aside from the state legislature issue) that would have at least matched what the NFL got from Minnesota when the Vikings threatened to move to LA.

  • ParallelParker

    The NFL needs to upgrade the quality of its PR flacks. To the rest of the world it seems imprudent and boorish to issue proclamations about things to which billionaires are “entitled”.

    • Imran

      I generally agree with your reaction and personally can’t wait for the day this brain-injury-racket collapses on itself. To be fair though they were referring to what the independant arbitration panel decided the Rams are entitled to under their current lease.

    • They’re using it in the correct legal sense. Under the old lease, the Rams were entitled to $700 million in improvements, and the stadium authority is technically in default. They should have just paid up.

    • omomma

      The NFL needs to go away.