Nearly 15 months since the official move, the city of St. Louis has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) over the relocation of the team. In the lawsuit, the city claims the NFL violated their own regulations and relocation guidelines claiming the league “enriched itself at the expense of the community it left behind.”
As a native St. Louisan, I grew up watching the Rams, so to say I was a little upset when the “greatest show on turf” left to go back to Los Angeles would be an understatement. Pardon my language, but I was pretty pissed off. Owner Stan Kroenke became my least favorite person on the planet in a matter of no time. But after my blood came down from a near-boiling temperature, I was able to rationalize the business aspect of life and move on. The Rams were no longer my team, and life goes on.
The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in a St. Louis Circuit Court, names the NFL, all 32 teams and the owners of those teams. The city seeks unspecified but “extensive” damages and restitution. Brian McCarthy, a spokesperson for the league, said the league did everything in their power. He claimed they worked diligently with local and state officials and called the process “honest” and “fair.”
The lawsuit also alleges that owner Stan Kroenke’s bid to move the team back to Los Angeles began in 2010, when Kroenke took over as majority owner, after longtime majority owner Georgia Frontiere passed away.
“In the years leading up to the Rams relocation request, Rams officials decided to move the team and confidentially determined that they would be interested in exploiting any opportunity to do so,” the lawsuit states.
Leading up to the move, the city of St. Louis did everything they could to keep Kroenke’s team. The city spent millions of dollars developing plans for a new riverfront stadium project aimed at retaining the Rams.
“The Rams never intended to engage in good faith negotiations with St. Louis,” the lawsuit says.
Back in 2014, Kroenke bought a piece of land in Inglewood, California. According to the lawsuit, at the time, team executive Kevin Demoff said it was “not a piece of land that’s any good for a football stadium” when asked about the purchase.
Although the lawsuit notes that in January of 2016, after league owners approved the move, Demoff told an interviewer that in a phone call with Kroenke he called the piece of land “an unbelievable site” for a football stadium. The lawsuit says Demoff said the call was one of the “moments in your life you never forget.” The Inglewood stadium is set to open in 2019.
In 1984, the NFL adopted relocation guidelines. In the lawsuit, the city claims that the league violated those guidelines “and instead focused solely on whether more money could be made in Los Angeles — a factor which does not justify relocation under the Policy,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that the NFL and all 32 teams benefited off of the move, while the city of St. Louis will lose an estimated $1.85 million to $3.5 million each year in amusement and ticket tax collections, as well as roughly $7.5 million in property taxes. The suit alleges that in total, the city will have lost more than $100 million in net proceeds.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday is just the latest in a series of legal actions involving various parties in St. Louis against the Rams and their relocation. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch three separate lawsuits regarding personal seat licenses (PSL’s), have been consolidated into one – which fans are seeking either refunds on PSL deposits or the right to buy season tickets in Los Angeles.
In another lawsuit, fans claim the Rams violated the Merchandise Practices Act by selling tickets and team merchandise while planning a move to a new market. Last but not least, the Regional Convention and Sports Authority wants to block the Rams from buying their former practice facility in Earth City, Missouri.
It’s alright though, St. Louis. Keep your head up. Let Stan Kroenke and his team enjoy being the second best team in Los Angeles.