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Thread: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

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    Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    By BRYAN BURWELL - Lee News Network Writer

    ST. LOUIS - Up until now, there hasn't been anything close to being called even a mild surprise in the way the St. Louis Rams and the city's negotiators have handled the public and semi-private wranglings over their separate visions for how to best upgrade the Edward Jones Dome to a suitable-enough state to keep Stan Kroenke's NFL franchise as its primary (and hopefully permanent) tenant.

    Everything we have seen, from the low-ball first offer from the city's Convention and Visitors Commission to the high-ball counter by the Rams, to Friday's decision by the CVC to reject the Rams' plan was right out of Art of the Game 101. So barring some sort of minor miracle happening over the course of the next two weeks where some anonymous sugar daddy emerges with a winning lottery ticket to foot the entire bill for the rehab of the Dome or the mortgage on a new stadium with all the "top-tier" bells and whistles, the natural give-and-take, high-ball and low-ball conversations have all sent these talks toward their inevitable destination: a carefully scripted stalemate that should push them toward a lengthy binding arbitration process.

    Even though Friday's decision triggered a two-week window for the CVC and Rams to engage in more private talks, arbitration seems quite inevitable from well-placed sources on both sides of the negotiating table. Once they get to arbitration, it could drag on beyond January, but the quicker the Dome issue lands in front of an arbitration panel the better. The environment of the arbitration process is where we'll discover everyone's true intentions and point us toward the ultimate end game, which is either a new or improved home for the Rams or this city's loss of yet another NFL franchise.

    To anyone who has tracked the Rams/Dome chatter extensively, this is as predictable as sunrise in the morning. Now comes the unpredictable portion of this story.

    Is it possible that the product that Kroenke puts out on the field this season could influence the outcome of the Dome issue?

    Will a modest improvement on the field by the Rams-or an ambitious complete worst-to-first turnaround-be enough to sway the public tide's appetite toward supporting whatever public funding will be needed to complete the Dome renovations?

    Sometimes, public sentiment can be a bit impulsive and swayed by the whims of playoff fever. A bad team doesn't render much passion for public support. But what could happen if the Dome is filled every weekend with delirious supporters caught up in NFL fever? What if new coach Jeff Fisher and his tag-team partner general manager Les Snead put together a squad in their first year that is in playoff contention all season long?

    What if they perform some sort of major miracle and really do find a way to do one of those worst-to-first overhauls that the NFL is known for?

    Could that be the sugar that makes the price tag for the Dome a bit easier to swallow?

    Stranger things have happened. The Rams have to know that it will be easier to sell a winner to the public than a loser that has been stuck in the mud for the past six seasons.

    For any number of reasons, the 2012 season shapes up to be as important as any in the history of the Rams' stay here in St. Louis. By the end of the season-and the arbitration process (which is binding on the Rams) - there will be some clarity on pro football's future in St. Louis. There will be no doubt if the folks negotiating for the city really have the vision to find a way to retain the Rams as an important local asset and whether or not Kroenke has the good sense to strike a compromise and join with the NFL to foot some of the hefty construction costs.

    In Texas in 2004 when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was seeking more than $300 million in public funding for his $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, voters in the city of Arlington approved hotel and car rental tax increases. A year earlier, coming off three consecutive 5-11 seasons, Jones hired legendary coach Bill Parcells as his new head coach and the Cowboys finished the 2003 season 10-6 and reached the playoffs, which many political observers in Dallas say set the mood for approval of the vote.

    It's also worth noting that before he got the approval of the good folks of Arlington, Jones was rejected by Dallas voters when he sought to build the stadium there. Keep that thought in mind as we try to sort out how the story of the Rams stadium issue will end.

    It'll take a good six to seven months to trudge to the finish line in these negotiations. Until then, don't bother grumbling about how much it will cost taxpayers and how unwilling you will be to pay for it, because until the behind-closed-door haggling is completed, complaining about how much it will cost is like complaining about next year's weather. It's the great unknown. However by next January, we will not only know how much it will cost, but also how the bill will be divided.

    By then we'll also know something else that so far has remained something of a mystery: Does Kroenke want a bigger, better Dome or is his ultimate agenda to get a new stadium in St. Louis County, across the river in Illinois or across the country in Los Angeles?

    I've been told by several well-informed sources that Kroenke hopes the CVC rejects all of the higher-priced plans to renovate the Dome, which would have them settling on a year-to-year lease arrangement.

    The worst thing that could happen to St. Louis is for the lease to go to a year-to-year basis, because it provides Kroenke with even more leverage than he already has. Right now Los Angeles is not really on the table of Kroenke's options because there is no place to play in LA. But if these negotiations drag on for two or three more years, that would give the two LA stadium groups time to become serious factors in the process. Once there is a completed stadium in LA, Kroenke really does have somewhere to move his team.

    In the best interest of St. Louis, it would be wise if the CVC can strike a deal with Kroenke long before LA does become a legitimate factor, not simply a convenient scare tactic.


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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    So, Burwell thinks that if the Rams get off to a 6-2 start, the CVC will say "gee... we weren't going to put up more than $50M, but now that the team is winning, we'll up to it $100M"?

    This deal is about long-term economics, not the team's 2012 record.

    But, hey... at least Brian met his article quota for the week.
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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    The worst thing that could happen to St. Louis is for the lease to go to a year-to-year basis, because it provides Kroenke with even more leverage than he already has. Right now Los Angeles is not really on the table of Kroenke's options because there is no place to play in LA. But if these negotiations drag on for two or three more years, that would give the two LA stadium groups time to become serious factors in the process. Once there is a completed stadium in LA, Kroenke really does have somewhere to move his team.
    What is he thinking... the Rams will be a lame duck team in St Louis while they wait for the stadium to be built?

    The agreement states construction on the project cannot begin until an NFL team has signed a long-term lease to play in Los Angeles. That means an NFL team could be playing in the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl as early as next season if AEG begins construction on the project this summer.

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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    What is he thinking... the Rams will be a lame duck team in St Louis while they wait for the stadium to be built?
    Yea, not sure of the point of the article. Also, the arbitration is binding on the Rams, the CVC is the one with the option to walk away. I doubt the CVC's decision will be based upon the Rams' record. Hopefully it will be based upon whether it represents a deal they can live with. Kroenke holds no leverage in the sense that Burwell talks about in the arbitration process. He'll only hold it if the CVC walks away from the arbitrator's decision.

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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Well, let's see. The first proposal had what, the people pitching in about $120M and the team pitching in about the same. The Rams' proposal was anywhere between $550-700M, so split evenly, let's say that is about $325M each.

    I'd say that the true answer still lies with the tolerance to economic "pain" that the CVC thinks that the voters will pass. Is that $150M, $200M, $300M? It really doesn't matter what the plan really is, it's all about what can pass, and what the NFL/Rams will pitch in. The secondary answer is what is Stan/Goodell willing to pitch in to keep the Rams where they are. LA continues to be the golden destination that is getting everyone new stadiums, so to actually populate it is possibly not in their best interest. That said, if the Rams aren't going to break even on the money they they spend to stay, why stay?

    The interesting thing to me will be what exactly happens to the Dome. Will it still be a wholly publically owned facility, or will Stan come out as a part, or full, owner? The tax burden will be much less, but the people will also see less of a direct benefit. Money from restaurants and hotels will, of course, still be collected.
    I believe!

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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post

    The interesting thing to me will be what exactly happens to the Dome. Will it still be a wholly publically owned facility, or will Stan come out as a part, or full, owner? The tax burden will be much less, but the people will also see less of a direct benefit. Money from restaurants and hotels will, of course, still be collected.
    That's a good question... you would think if Stan drops 250 Mil he would have ownership. How about Stan and the rams going year to year lease and building his own Stadium.... Walmart Field

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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    That's a good question... you would think if Stan drops 250 Mil he would have ownership. How about Stan and the rams going year to year lease and building his own Stadium.... Walmart Field
    Maybe Stan can build his own stadium, on land donated by the City/County. He could incorporate a theme park, and call it WallyWorld.

    Yeah, I know, not gonna happen with Six Flags OMA in the area, but it would be funny.


    gap
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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Quote Originally Posted by gap View Post
    Maybe Stan can build his own stadium, on land donated by the City/County. He could incorporate a theme park, and call it WallyWorld.

    Yeah, I know, not gonna happen with Six Flags OMA in the area, but it would be funny.
    LMAO too funny! I could take the family, we could take the truckster and catch a Rams game and go to WallyWorld. What could be better then that!

    Harsh language warning*

    Last edited by Rambos; -06-04-2012 at 09:06 PM.

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    Re: Burwell: Rams' fate may hinge on record

    Couple of statements in the article I found to be somewhat missleading and misinformed.

    The proposal by the Rams is not "high-ball" at all. To become a "top-tier" stadium, the cost is going to be somewhere closer to a billion dollars than a quarter million. If the intent is to make it a top-tier stadium for longer than a year or two. The CVC proposal is, on the other hand, ridiculously low. A new club and some better lighting isn't going to cut it.

    The LA stadium will not be built until they have a team committed to come to LA. They have said that they are not going to "build it and hope they come". They want a commitment first. (by "they" I mean both potential builders AEG and Roski.) So, in order for that to happen, the Rams would have to commit and immediately move to LA and play in a temporary stadium until the new stadium gets built. Either the Rose Bowl or Coliseum. They estimate 2-3 years to complete the build. SO either way, the Rams would be playing in a temporary stadium while the current ED is rebuilt, or the LA stadium is built. The downside on the Stl side is all the revenue lost to other stadium events while it is under construction. I read it is estimated that about 500 million dollars would be lost in revenue which adds to the cost of the Rams staying in STL. Then the renovation of the ED becomes even more unlikely. But, LA is not going to bury a single shovel into the ground until they have a team committed to coming. SO that scenario of having that option open to Kroenke is BS.

    The LA deal is NOT a scare tactic by any stretch. It is very real, they both have all the blessing and permits they need to start up, w/o taxpayer dollars. But a billion dollar stadium in the 2nd largest TV market in the country awaits, all the Rams or Chargers, or Jaguars need to do is say; "we're coming". Now, if it's the Rams coming or not, nobody knows, but I am convinced a team or two is coming to LA. There's too much money to be made in LA for the NFL to continue to ignore.

    I'd say the chances of the Rams coming to LA is about as likely as the LA Kings winning a Stanley Cup.

    ...oh, wait a minute.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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