Next week the and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission will announce that they have not come to an agreement independently on a proposal for the Edward Jones Dome that would satisfy both sides.
After the negotiating deadline expires on June 15, the two entities will be entered into a semi-binding arbitration process that is expected to take several months, if not the rest of 2012.
The best offer the CVC could muster for the Rams? 124 million dollars of renovation that calls for new paneling tp let some natural light in, a new digital scoreboard and enhanced club seating.
The least the Rams could accept from the CVC? 700 million dollars of renovation that call for pretty much everything but the infrastructure to be gutted and then redone real fancy. In this plan,you wouldn't recognize the dome as it currently sits and it’d pretty much be like getting a new stadium.
Ok. So we’re not really that close here are we? Believe or not, there is some good news, some bad news and some ugly news in all of this information.
The good news
The CVC could have come to the table with an insulting offer, something like $35 million dollars to make some cosmetic changes, and really wiped their hands of this whole ordeal. After all, if the Rams decided to move, the CVC could spin this as a greedy owner trying to take advantage of the tax base, with the CVC, luckily, here to stand up to ‘the man’ and protect our wallets and unborn babies from the burden of the evil Rams.
It wouldn’t have appeased many, you know, Rams fans. But in the grand scheme of things, most St. Louisans aren’t Rams fans. At least not to the point where they want to pay new taxes to keep them in STL.
So the CVC is at least acknowledging that the Rams are an integral part of the community and that they want them to stay. After all, this is a negotiation. They weren’t going to come in anywhere close to their high end. So if 124 million is a what they consider a starting point, then that’s reasonable.
The bad news:
576 million dollars isn’t a small gap.
Think of it this way- Busch Stadium 3’s cost in total? $365 million. So just the gap alone is nearly Busch Stadium and a half. And that’s a stadium that draws almost as many people as a Rams game 81 times per year, as opposed to 8.
Further, the BS that the CVC spewed about the EJD being a world-class facility that would attract new and exciting convention business has proven to be grossly overstated. Since opening in 1995, the EJD has rarely been utilized for big convention events. Take away motocross and monster truck events and the damn thing has barely been used at all outside of football. So the ‘this is going to help STL’ angle is all but shot.
Maybe the Pope can do an encore?
The Rams will come off their number, as will the CVC. When the numbers are this high, the best negotiators in town are on the job and generally the best grind out every detail before consummating a deal. But again, in a baseball town, is $576 million too big a gap to be bridged?
The ugly news:
It’s the proverbial elephant in the room: Los Angeles.
It’s the second biggest TV market in the US and sans a franchise in the most popular sport in America. Many are speculating the NFL loves having that market open so it can leverage better deals on stadiums for all of its teams before actually moving one to the city (see: Minneapolis, Indianapolis.) And when the time comes where a city wants to play hardball, that city will lose their NFL team.
St. Louis lost the Cardinals in the 1980’s. And if they lost the Rams in the 2010s, then there is absolutely no going back to professional football in this city ever again. In fact, it’s more likely that medical information will completely eliminates football in its current form than that St. Louis will lose and then regain an NFL franchise yet again.
The Rams have the hammer here. And the CVC can ‘negotiate’ with the team all they want. But at any point if the Rams don’t accept an offer, they can play out their time here and then move to LA for a ton of money. Their posture now is confident, but it may not be by the time Christmas comes. They have zero leverage, while the Rams can make choices based on what maximizes profit for them.
Friends: We knew that this negotiation was headed to an arbiter before this very public song and dance started. We learned a bunch of details on where the sides’ heads are at. We know that answers are closer than they ever have been before. Now it’s just a matter of time to see just how greedy/giving both the Rams and the CVC are.
2014 is coming quicker than we thought.