The NFL has agreed to pay $790 million to the city and county of St. Louis to settle a four-year dispute over whether the league will do its own thing to pave the way for the Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles in 2016. The transfer has broken down guidelines, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity. A spokesman for the league confirmed that a settlement had been reached, but declined to confirm the amount.
In a civil lawsuit, a group that included city, county and St. Louis regional convention and sports complex authorities said Rams officials, NFL officials, and other team owners encouraged the group to try to build a new stadium. did. Voting. The complaint states that St. Louis officials spent $17 million on the design and plans for a new stadium, but the league disregarded those efforts without explanation, and the team owners refused to allow the Rams to move to California. Voted for
Rams boss Stanley Kroenke, who in recent weeks tried to reduce the scope of his liability in the case, is expected to reimburse the league for most or all of the settlement.
The payment comes on top of a $550 million transfer fee that Kroenke paid for the right to move the NFL to Los Angeles. They have spent nearly $5 billion to build Sophie Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which the Rams share with the Los Angeles Chargers, and which will host the Super Bowl in February.
Victory is bitter for St. Louis. While the money from the settlement will help cover some of the financial loss from tourism and entertainment fees, it will not atone for the mental loss of seeing another NFL franchise depart.
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In 1988, the city lost to the Cardinals, who moved to Arizona. St. Louis lured the Rams from Anaheim, Calif., in 1995, as it had already built a domed stadium, but the lease with the NFL franchise gave the team the opportunity to later seek other options for venues.
Fear of the city grew when, in 2013, Kroenke bought Hollywood Park Racetrack, which sits on 260 acres of land in Inglewood, Calif. Then the Rams won’t commit to a long-term deal to live in St. Louis, which increases the chances. of a transfer.
To fight back, then-Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon formed a task force that developed a plan for a new outdoor stadium near the Mississippi River that included naming rights partners and public funding to cover some of the construction costs. Was.
At the same time, a committee of six NFL owners recommended that the league allow the Chargers and Raiders, who sought new venues, to build a stadium together in Carson, Calif. Yet in January 2016, the entire group of league owners voted 30. -2 for letting Ram go to Los Angeles. As a consolation, the Chargers were given the right to move to the Rams’ new home if they could not secure a new stadium in San Diego.
In 2017, a team of attorneys that included Missouri Task Force member Bob Blitz sued the league on behalf of the City and County and Stadium Authority of St. Louis, which no longer had the Rams as an anchor. Tenant.
The lawyers wrote in their complaint, “The Rams and the NFL were aware that the plaintiffs were spending a large amount of time and money developing a new stadium complex financing plan and through misrepresentation of the process and intent of the Rams.” commitments encouraged.”
Louis, a rare and very public defeat for the NFL, the league contested the lawsuit because it did not want to set a settlement precedent or open the door to an adverse decision. Which in the future would invite other cities to sue the league following the departure of their teams.
But team owners are likely to be forced to testify about how the league decides whether a team can proceed, and the potential losses that could exceed $1 billion have forced the league to reach a settlement. inspired to come.
The NFL has defended lawsuits from cities it previously abandoned. Most recently, the city of Oakland, California sued the league after the Raiders were allowed to move to Las Vegas in 2017. But that suit, which is under appeal, was filed in federal court.
St. Louis filed its suit in state court, and the judge in the case repeatedly rejected the league’s efforts to advance the trial. Most of the cases remained under seal, but the league was defeated and a trial before a jury of a dozen Missouri residents was likely until the league decided to settle.