What are the stakes for the NFL and St. Louis

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald # 99 leads the field defense to face the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Terry Pierson | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

The National Football League still cannot escape Saint-Louis.

Lawyers representing the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams and team owner Stan Kroenke have filed a lawsuit to move their January 2022 trial out of St. Louis. The lawsuit follows a lawsuit over the Rams’ move in 2016.

The appeal was filed on October 1. He cites the “detrimental effects of extensive pre-trial publicity” as the cause of the change of venue. The case was first reported by Conduct Detrimental, a website that covers sports law.

Under all of this legal jargon lies a crucial fight for the NFL.

St. Louis officials are seeking financial damages they claim they suffered when the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016. The move left St. Louis in debt on the team’s old stadium, built with public funds. In August, a judge had already rejected a request to change the location of the Rams. And sensitive documents about the finances of NFL owners could become public during the trial, which has already been postponed.

The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, the City of St. Louis and the County of St. Louis say the NFL failed to follow its relocation policy and held good faith negotiations to prevent the departure of the Rams. The 2017 lawsuit is registered with the City of St. Louis Circuit Court under number 1722-CC00976.

The lawsuit claims Kroenke and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones conspired “to come up with a plan to move the Rams to Los Angeles and get the rest of the teams to approve the move.” The lawsuit also alleges that Kroenke and Jones discussed site plans for the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., As early as 2013.

City officials blame the NFL and its owners for the loss of revenue. Documents on the finances of NFL owners may become public.

Lawyers for St. Louis officials did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC. An NFL spokesperson declined to comment.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kronke before an NFL playoff soccer game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday January 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Keith Birmingham | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

Underestimate the trial

To understand that lawsuit, go back to 2010. Next, Kroenke, who also led the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche under Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, was approved as majority owner of the Rams. Kronke had been involved with the Rams since moving to the city in 1995 and increased his stake to 40% in 1997.

Kroenke said one of the reasons for taking office was the treatment the Rams received during stadium negotiations. “I knew this was something I couldn’t ignore because my 31 partners wouldn’t allow us to continue playing at a facility that isn’t first-class,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2016.

With complete control and language in the stadium lease that demanded that the then Edward Jones Dome remain one of the best stadiums in the NFL, plans to attract a new sports complex began.

The lawsuit alleges Rams officials lied to the public about the team’s intention to stay amid rumors of a possible return to Los Angeles. The Rams had played there from 1946 to 1994, and the NFL wanted to bring a team back to LA to take advantage of the cheaper media.

But in St. Louis, talks for a new stadium collapsed and in January 2015 it was announced that Kroenke had a stake in a real estate project in Inglewood. The team then informed St. Louis officials that they would replace their rental option to play the Edward Jones Dome with an annual contract. And in January 2016, NFL owners voted to move the Rams to Los Angeles, which cost St. Louis its second NFL franchise. The city also housed the Arizona Cardinals until 1987. And the Rams’ endorsement forced the franchise to share a venue with the San Diego Chargers.

“This decision was not about me or St. Louis,” Kroenke said in 2016. “It was about what was in the best long-term interest of the NFL and our 31 partners.”

The 2017 lawsuit alleged the NFL violated its relocation policy and claimed team officials misled the public about the Rams’ plans. He said the Rams had not held public hearings on the intention to move and claimed the team had not conducted good faith negotiations. St. Louis said he wanted to secure the Rams a new stadium, but the prosecution added that Kroenke never met with former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay or Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to discuss the matter. .

Since the legal challenge, however, the NFL and Rams have been consistently sacked as they tried to escape St. Louis completely. The first blow came when the Rams settled a class action lawsuit for $ 24 million in 2018. Fans sued the team after paying for personal seat licenses, a one-time fee that charges consumers for the right to purchase. season tickets. NFL teams use the fees to help cover construction costs in stadium funding agreements.

The lawyers also tried to have the case heard by arbitrators, to no avail. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court refused to get involved. And the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh, who declined to request that the case be transferred to another jurisdiction. In addition, last month the court also upheld a warrant that Kroenke and other NFL owners, including Jones, provide financial documents to assess potential damage. If these records became public, it could shed light on the finances of NFL team owners.

The parties had a Sept. 28 deadline to provide the statements or face a fine of $ 1,000 per day, according to Bloomberg. However, it is not clear whether the documents were submitted or whether fines were imposed.

“I feel bad for the city of St. Louis,” said sports lawyer Irwin Kishner. “It’s a very emotional issue – losing your team to another city.”

Kishner, the co-chairman of Herrick sports law firm Feinstein, is following the case. He said that when courts ask for financial documents during the pre-trial period, it comes after officials have “established accountability.”

When considering the case on Tuesday, Kishner said the wording of the Rams’ lease in St. Louis could be “difficult to say that there is a binding obligation to stay in the city,” Kishner said. “And there was no contractual obligation that would subject the team to damages if they moved when the lease expired.”

An exterior view of the dome at the America’s Center ahead of the St. Louis Rams 29-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in St. Louis, Missouri.

Elsa | Getty Images

Profit and loss assessment

The move to Los Angeles hasn’t exactly gone smoothly for the Rams.

The pandemic has delayed the opening of SoFi Stadium to fans in 2020. And an ESPN article from November 2019 revealed additional details about the relocation, citing feuds with the charges and failure to meet the income targets of seat license. The lawsuit notes that Kroenke paid a relocation fee of $ 550 million, but alleges that Rams’ valuation “doubled to $ 3 billion,” citing Forbes.

“This increase in value was made to the detriment of the plaintiffs,” said the trial.

As the case progresses, the Dome of America’s Center sits mostly empty in downtown St. Louis with no annual NFL football. And city officials want the NFL to pay for the economic decline.

The lawsuit alleges that St. Louis lost between $ 1.85 million and $ 3.5 million per year in collecting taxes on entertainment and tickets. He added that about $ 7.5 million had been lost in property taxes and $ 1.4 million in sales taxes, totaling more than $ 100 million in revenue for the city.

The lawsuit also claims St. Louis County also lost hotel, property and sales tax revenue after the Rams moved. The impact on the state is over $ 15 million. The lawsuit used figures from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

“The city has lost a precious limb, and it is pissed off,” Kishner said. “And this is a city looking for its piece of the pie.” And the longer the problem persists, the NFL risks public sentiment, Kishner added.

“They have to handle this and be very aware of it,” Kishner said, adding that the outcome of the case should be settled. “Most lawsuits are settled before you come to the actual decision, because there is a lot of time, effort, money, publicity associated with that.”

But how much would a settlement cost?

Officials in St. Louis are seeking not only damages, but part of the increase in value associated with the Rams’ lost relocation income, according to the lawsuit. This total exceeds $ 1 billion.

“But these types of regulations almost always remain confidential,” Kishner said.


Source link

Comments are closed.