The St. Louis Rams have been presented a $124 million proposal by the CVC (Convention & Visitors Commission) to enhance the Edward Jones Dome, with the goal of enticing them enough that they don't opt out of their lease at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
The Rams have until March 1 to accept or reject this proposal. And they will reject this proposal. Then they have until May 1 to make a counter offer.
Five reasons Rams fans should be encouraged:
1) This proposal didn't suck as hard as we thought it would.
The CVC was a big proponent of Ballpark Village. So far that's gotten the city a sewage-runoff pond and an underused softball field. I don't claim to be a civic magician, but give me six years and I think I could (probably) figure out a way to get pee water to well up in a ditch.
So I just assumed that the CVC was going to do an MS Paint mock-up of Rampage panhandling on Broadway & Cole and cross their fingers. Turns out they hired a professional to come in and mock up some ideas. Hell, you might say they treated the whole thing with more professionalism that most of the Rams players this season.
I love the natural light element and the Jerry Jones-in-miniature hanging scoreboard. The Baer Plaza is also a nice touch. You can see all the pics HERE.
2) You never start high. But your starting point tells everyone how serious you are.
The Rams are going to reject this proposal because that's how negotiations work. However, the fact that the CVC started at the 124M mark means that they're serious about keeping the team in town.
You figure that that's what the CVC would love for this to cost. But you also figure that by starting their and anticipating a counter offer, that they ultimately think that it's a doable thing to end up closer to 200M. Or nearly the cost to build the dome back in 1994-95.
Had they come in with a 50M to 75M junkball, I think that Stan Kroenke and his leadership team would have had one foot out the door while sending a hail mary proposal to the CVC. Now, at least in the court of public opinion, the CVC has made a strong opening statement. To not negotiate in good faith would sink any goodwill that the Rams have in this town.
3) It's executable.
What the CVC proposed could actually be done. Scrapping the stadium completely was a pipe dream. Opening the lid wasn't anything more than an aesthetic preference for watching football. Moving the team to a new stadium off I-44 on the land where a Chrysler plant stands vacant was a 700-800M investment.
Not only does this plan have the elements that many fans have been clamoring for—natural light, better audio, video screens that make sense—but they're also truly doable. Are they serious construction projects? Yes, they are. But not so serious that the infrastructure of the whole building is compromised.
4) The EJD is in better shape than we thought.
I've been to many, many games in the Edward Jones Dome. And while most people think of it as a drab, uninspired facility, I've never thought it as horrible as the worst accounts made it out to be.
Yes, it was boring as shit when the Rams were 1-15 or 2-14. But when there was a winning team? Pretty tough place to play. Pretty fun place to be.
I can't be a hypocrite. I love Wrigley Field because there isn't much to do there besides drink beer and watch baseball. If you want some other form of entertainment, you can go elsewhere. At this point, the EJD is pretty much Wrigley, sans all the history. There aren't many frills and if the football sucks, like the baseball at Wrigley often does, then you either suffer through it or leave.
The stakes are higher in football. Only eight (seven?) home games per year means there is less room for error. But the fact remains that if they get a little daylight in and make the scoreboard awesome, I'm perfectly fine with the Edward Jones Dome for the Rams. It's not going to be Cowboy Stadium. It doesn't need to be Cowboy Stadium. I know what I'm getting into when I get a ticket.
The common perception was that the Rams' home field was in bad shape. This proposal says not so. It may not be the flashiest, but in terms of what the Rams agreed to as "First Tier," the dome isn't as far off as we'd imagined. That's a leverage point the CVC can exploit.
5) We finally have something on paper to analyze.
Before Wednesday we didn't really have anything to base our opinions on other than conjecture and nightmares. Now we've got a hard and fast proposal that the Rams will have to counter in the next two months. Rational people can take a look at all the information and come down on a side with reasoned opinions. That strikes me as a good thing.
There are still lingering questions about this whole situation. Like where the money is coming from. Or just what else will need to be conceded for the ink to find its way to a new contract.
But all in all, I think Rams fans have the right to at least feel—if not great—at least better that the City of St. Louis is looking to keep the NFL here.
And in the most ironic part of the whole ordeal... at the end of the day, we'd probably just rather watch the Red Zone at home than go to most games anyway.