Will the Rams Leave St. Louis?

A change in which professional sports teams call St. Louis their home could be happening in the near future.

The Edwards Jones Dome needs to be renovated in order to be considered among the stadiums and domes used throughout the National Football League. The St. Louis Rams and The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Center (CVC) have created their own renovation plans for the Edward Jones Dome.  However, the St. Louis Rams renovation plans would cost $700 million, where the CVC’s renovation plan would be $124 million. The Edward Jones Dome has not had any major upgrades or renovations since the Rams started using it for the 1995 season.

Both sides have been negotiating through an arbitrator to meet somewhere in the middle of both renovation plans. The ball is in the CVC’s court, as they have less than a month to decide if any renovations will be made at all, while the Rams use the Edward Jones Dome for their games and other events. If the two sides are unable to agree on a renovation plan within the 30-day period, then the arbitrator will let the CVC decide and the Rams lease to stay in St. Louis will be year-to-year. At the end of each year, the Rams will have the option to stay in St. Louis or to venture to another city.

These negotiations are going to help decide whether the Edward Jones Dome will or will not be renovated.  The ruling is still pending on the renovations, but the decision allowing the Rams to have a year-to-year lease was made on Friday, Feb. 1.

Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said, “Friday’s ruling was only one step in the journey through the whole process.”

Among the renovations made to the Edward Jones Dome More luxury suites and party terraces could be added to the seating options. Photo Courtesy of Mike Figus.

Among the renovations made to the Edward Jones Dome More luxury suites and party terraces could be added to the seating options. Photo Courtesy of Mike Figus.

Along with ruling in the Rams favor after the first arbitration hearing, the CVC must also cover the Rams legal fees, which have totaled $3 million thus far. Before this ruling was given at the arbitration hearing, the Ram’s owner, Stan Kroenke, hasn’t been very vocal about the renovations that need to be made, or about having the Rams stay in St. Louis altogether.

Many diehard fans support the Rams through thick and thin and would be sick at the thought of them leaving, let alone being without a professional football team. They’ve brought us great memories such as bringing us their first Lombardi Trophy by winning Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Along with that title they returned to the Super Bowl a couple years later in 2001, but did not defeat the New England Patriots. Along with those games, many honorable players have suited up for the Rams such as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

While those players no longer play for the Rams, their memories live as a part the St. Louis Rams history. Every generation of players and coaches strive to make a name for themselves and cement their place in history. The Rams had their ups and downs throughout their time in St. Louis since they arrived from Los Angeles in 1995. While those highlights will never be forgotten, many of the players who helped build the Rams have eventually moved on to play for other teams.

Professional athletes are not tied to one team for their entire careers. This is where the business side of professional sports comes into play. Players, coaches and even teams need to negotiate their contracts with their superiors.

While most teams don’t relocate as often as players seem to do– which seems far too often– the possibility of relocation is never ruled out the picture. Every year there are talks about teams leaving their current cities to relocate to another city that either once had a professional team and no longer does, or to a city that never had a market for that sport, but now is looking to host a team.

A team leaving to relocate to another city is never good news to the home city. However, it does open the door for another team of that sport or an entirely different sport to relocate to that city. In St. Louis’s case, The Rams could possibly leave to relocate back to Los Angeles, and there has been speculation of the Atlanta Hawks basketball returning to St. Louis.

Over the past few years it has looked more like a reality that the Atlanta Hawks could relocate to St. Louis. The Hawks players called St. Louis their home for 13 seasons in the NBA from 1955-1968 before relocating to Atlanta, Ga.

In the summer of 2011, Atlanta publicly spoke about selling the team to a new ownership group. However, there were legal setbacks from their contract with the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., which they use for their home games, practices and other events. While they could terminate their contract early, the new owners would be required to pay a fee of $75 million as a penalty.

Even though it doesn’t look very likely that St. Louis will be home to a professional basketball team in the near future, with the uncertainty of the Rams future, there is always a possibility it could change soon. It also doesn’t look likely that St. Louis could keep the Rams as their professional football team as well as add a professional basketball team. The timing is not right to maintain both professional sports team, along with the other professional sports teams St. Louis already has. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a saying “when one door closes, another door opens.”