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    Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    Burwell: Nixon’s the one for Rams talks

    9 hours ago • BY BRYAN BURWELL • > 314-340-8185

    Unlike the good folks of CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) and the conspiracy theorists around town who are on constant watch for falling skies, Sasquatch footprints and moving vans sneaking into Earth City under the cover of darkness, I’m still fairly convinced of a few rather important things:

    1. The Rams aren’t moving .

    2. A new stadium is coming.

    3. And it’s very good news that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon now is running point on stadium talks with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, because it’s going to take someone with Nixon’s political smarts to engineer the sort of complicated deal that will satisfy both reluctant taxpayers and a calculating businessman such as Kroenke.

    Right now, though, there’s this unsettling public perception is that even if Nixon is the most qualified man for the job, he can’t get anything done if he’s talking to himself.

    A lot of local politicians are convinced that so far the governor hasn’t had any more success trying to unlock the greatest mystery of the universe (What does Kroenke want?) than anyone else who’s preceded him.

    I think they’re wrong. Nixon might not know what Kroenke wants, but I suspect he has a darned good idea what he should want. And that’s half the battle. There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy skepticism when it comes to gauging the clandestine business intents of rich and powerful people.

    With his understandably strategic, but incredibly annoying silence on the subject, the secretive Rams owner certainly has done his part to stir the fears of nervous Chicken Littles who are convinced that his silent ways are evidence that he eventually will take his valuable NFL franchise out of St. Louis.

    But here’s another reason why I think having Nixon in the room becomes an advantage. Others have viewed Kroenke’s silence with nothing but consternation and contempt. But sometimes, you have to consider it as a useful tool in the negotiating game.

    Just because Kroenke strategically is procrastinating doesn’t mean you have to as well. Sooner or later when the Rams’ owner decides it’s advantageous to say or do something, Nixon and his people have to be ready with a powerful and effective response.

    It’s one of the reasons the governor already has secured the services of the multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs at the princely sum of a $20,000-per-month retainer. The firm will advise the state on ways to create new revenue and finance a new stadium.

    We’ve been saying for more than a year that the best thing that could happen regarding these stadium talks is to get the people from the city government and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission out of the room as quickly as possible and get someone at the negotiating table who has the fiscal and developmental vision and the political smarts to put a good deal together that works favorably for everyone concerned.

    Nixon volunteered for the job and there’s no one better suited for it because he actually understands the issues, knows what needs to be done and has both the inclination and the wherewithal to make it happen.

    Now the right people are in the room. Kroenke and Nixon eventually will start talking. It might not happen for months. It might not happen until after the lease expires after the 2014 season and the Rams go to a year-to-year deal and Kroenke believes his leverage is maximized.

    In the meantime, being proactive is the best course of action for the region in figuring out whatever it is that Kroenke wants or should want.

    Nixon and the folks at Goldman Sachs should be smart enough to know the answer to that question. And the answer is more about solving St. Louis’ market-size issues than simply building and financing a new stadium.

    The primary reason Kroenke (or any owner) would be so interested in getting out of the Dome is to maximize the inescapable revenue stream handicaps that exist in a mid-major market such as St. Louis. I’m sure if Kroenke had his way, he’d prefer to be standing economically shoulder to shoulder with all the top revenue-earning owners in the league such as those from New York, Washington, Dallas and Chicago. Kroenke’s economic resources in the Dome always will be less than those teams have as long as his franchise is here. It doesn’t mean he can’t make a lot of money here, because he can.

    A spectacular new stadium alone doesn’t resolve his economic issues, though. No matter how spectacular that building would be, Kroenke still would be unable to charge the premium prices for corporate sponsorships or luxury suites that are generated in markets such as New York, LA, Dallas, Chicago and Washington.

    One of the simplest solutions for St. Louis would be giving Kroenke something that every billionaire real estate developer values — prime real estate to develop surrounding his stadium.

    But as Gov. Nixon works behind the scenes to make this come together, he surely will feel the resistance from that imaginary organization I call CAVE, whose members already are on every internet message board stridently squawking that there will be no public money spent on a new football stadium. Nixon knows it’s just not that absolute.

    The NFL’s G-4 loan program will put $200 million of the league’s money on the table for any new stadium construction project based on two significant stipulations: 1. The owner must chip in a substantial percentage of the stadium costs (based on the most recent stadium deals, no less than $500 million to $600 million); 2. There must be a “public-private partnership.”

    That shrewd wording is no accident. It allows local governments a wide latitude to determine what that “partnership” is and how it works best for them politically and financially.

    In St. Louis, finding that public-private partnership won’t be easy. But time could be an ally for Nixon in that regard because a lot can change politically between now and 2015.

    An educated guess is that it will be a land deal of some sort. As much as people like to talk about the sweetheart deal that the Rams already have with the Dome, the one thing the organization doesn’t have is complete control of game-day parking revenue.

    As long as they play in the Dome, the Rams don’t get any substantial income from game-day parking. The areas that surround the downtown city-owned facility are either private facilities or city-owned garages or metered spaces on the streets.

    But if St. Louis County gave Kroenke that huge parcel of land off Earth City Expressway in Maryland Heights, or the city gave him waterfront property just east of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, that would provide sprawling parking lots that offer Kroenke the chance to earn millions of dollars in parking revenue. Just do the math: with per-game parking at $25 to $30, that’s roughly $1.2 to $2 million per home game, or an additional $10 to $16 million per season in his pockets.

    That’s at least a very good start and just the sort of clever helping hand that could begin to satisfy Kroenke’s wanderlust and the public’s reluctance to foot the bill for a billionaire’s play toy.

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    That's right. It is all in the offers. Make an offer to make an offer. Mr. Nixon. Mr. Kroenke.

    Or as Fliptalianstallion said last week:

    Your move Stan. Time's running out and I'd like to see our Rams get a stadium that lives up to the tier of the Superdome or Lucas Oil Stadium.

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    While I do appreciate Kroenke's efforts on bringing success for the Rams, just know that I still perceive him as a typical robber baron. The way I see him running the Denver Nuggets and Arsenal is what another poster said months back as "competitive mediocrity". Kroenke only cares about the Rams winning so it inflate his pockets with more money at the expense of taxpayers' money further putting local economy down the drain. Let's just hope Fisher, Snead, and Demoff are implementing the building blocks of a dynasty or at least a Super Bowl ring.
    RealRam and MoonJoe like this.

    ♪ R.I.P. Nujabes ♫

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    Quote Originally Posted by Fliptalianstallion View Post
    ...Let's just hope Fisher, Snead, and Demoff are implementing the building blocks of a dynasty or at least a Super Bowl ring.
    Well said! Words to live by!

    As for Kroenke, I hear you and I think I understand the possible reality harshness that awaits from someone like him, a 'powerful' person.

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    "According to the lease terms, all the Rams have to do is pay $25,000 rent per game. That's only $250,000 a year for eight regular season and two preseason games. Furthermore, the Rams get 100% of the ticket revenue from the games, 100% of the profit on concessions from the games and a percentage of profits from concessions at non-game events at Edward Jones. They also get 75% of the first $6 million in advertising revenue and 90% of revenue after that."
    -from an interview with hardcore return to LA writer, Tom Bateman, so ....but sure sounds like the money's being made.

    And Burwell wants to turn how much land into a parking lot to boost the profit margin ?

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    I don't know how this is going to play out, but I suspect that everything that has occurred thus far has been consistent with Kroenke's expectations and overall plan. You don't get to be in the position he is in by simply letting things play out and reacting.

    The other thing I am convinced of is that Kroenke will NEVER tell us (or the media) what his plan is. He doesn't care what PD columnists write. He's going to do what he thinks is best at the pace he wishes to proceed.

    My guess is that we'll be watching the Rams play in a new stadium in the St. Louis area by 2016-17, but that's just a GUESS.

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    Re: Burwell: Nixon's The One For Rams Talks

    I was listening to NFL radio late last week and heard them talking about mediocre teams and how if they want to change, they'll spend the money to go get Cowher out of retirement or some other proven head coach. If they want to remain on the bottom, they'll go get a coordinator and not give him the time to develop and grow. We went cheap with Linehan and Spags. They had to learn on the job and so were not as effective. Whether they were right for the job is another discussion.

    But Kronke went out and got the big name coach. He spent the money. I believe that he wants to win. St. Louis will never get the income of a Cowboys, or a Redskins or a Giants, or a Bears in the big time markets. Unless, he can create a dynasty and a lasting image like Green Bay. The Packers are one of the most beloved teams and make plenty of money, yet are in the smallest market, I believe. If Kronke can win, then he can get more fans, and more fans buy merchandise, they sell out games, and they drive up prices for not only stuff they buy, but advertising, because Kronke can show that more eyes will see it.

    Kronke might settle for competative mediocrity, but he also knows that winning championships brings in more cash.
    I believe!

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