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Thread: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

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    'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    ST. LOUIS • The St. Louis Rams' future here could be in question because of two words that many fans don't usually associate with the Edward Jones Dome: first tier.

    Those words give the Rams a door to walk away from the team's lease at the Dome — the building has to be a "first-tier" stadium by 2015, or among the top 25 percent of National Football League venues.

    The lease itself, however, doesn't offer much clarity on what constitutes first tier. It identifies several components that need to meet that bar, but also includes vague factors, such as "the physical structure of the facilities." Another says simply 'stadium seating."

    The lease includes enough broad language that negotiators could argue just about every inch of the Dome is subject to the standard.

    Winning over Rams owner Stan Kroenke could involve millions in publicly funded improvements. The key may be not necessarily to offer enough to make the Dome one of football's first-tier shrines, but perhaps enough to get the Rams to look the other way or renegotiate the agreement.

    The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which manages the Dome, has a week left to present the Rams with a plan for revamping the stadium.

    The Dome must be deemed first tier in each of 15 categories, though the lease doesn't spell exactly what would make each of those areas first tier. The categories include:

    • Fan amenities, such as box suites, club seats, lounges and any other public areas, including elevators and escalators.

    • Technical areas, such as scoreboards, lighting, sound, computer and emergency systems, as well "advertising infrastructure in, on and around the facilities."

    • Revenue-generating facilities, such as food-preparation areas, shops, concession stalls and box offices.

    • Behind-the-scenes areas related to the team, such as locker rooms, coaches' offices and training facilities.

    If there's any good news in the lease for the CVC, it's that the number of seats and luxury boxes are excluded from first-tier consideration. About 66,000 fans can now attend football games at the Dome, which boasts 120 luxury suites and 6,400 club seats. Those numbers aren't required to change.

    Patrick Rishe, a sports economist at Webster University, said while the CVC might be able to satisfy some portions of the first-tier requirement, "I doubt very seriously that, without significant investment of let's say $200 to $300 million at least, the Edward Jones Dome could qualify overall."

    When they agreed to the terms of the lease in the 1990s, civic leaders eager to bring a football team to St. Louis were acting out of a sense of urgency, recalled Freeman Bosley Jr., who was mayor at the time.

    "We weren't negotiating from a position of strength," he said.

    In 1994, after losing out on securing expansion teams to Charlotte and Jacksonville, St. Louis made a play to land the Rams, who were flirting with a move to Baltimore. Construction of what is now called the Edward Jones Dome was already under way.

    During negotiations with St. Louis leaders, the Rams proposed the first-tier language.

    Bosley said officials discussed whether the clause was potentially problematic but decided it wasn't.

    They believed Georgia Frontiere, the Rams owner at the time, and John Shaw, the team president, were committed to keeping the team in St. Louis.

    "It was always understood that the Rams would meet us halfway," Bosley said. "But that's when we were dealing with Georgia Frontiere and John Shaw."

    Shaw, who stepped down as Rams president in 2008, was a brilliant negotiator and the person most responsible for the team's generous lease terms, said Jim Nagourney, a former pro sports executive who worked as a consultant for the Rams during the relocation negotiations.

    Shaw "knew he was holding all the cards," said Nagourney, who is now retired. "The city wanted a team, and it was going to agree to anything … They just said yes to so many things."

    Shaw did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    The Dome was largely financed with $256 million in revenue bonds, and the repayment of that 30-year debt will be $720 million. Every year, Missouri spends $12 million to pay off the debt, and St. Louis and St. Louis County each pay $6 million annually. The county's portion is funded through a 3.5 percent hotel tax approved by voters in 1990.

    The lease calls for the Rams to stay at the Dome through 2025 — but only if the stadium is first tier at two points: 2005 and 2015. The Rams waived the requirement the first time in exchange for $30 million in improvements. This time, there are a series of deadlines in 2012, starting with the CVC's mandate to deliver a plan by Feb. 1.

    The Rams could counteroffer and would have until May 1 to do so. The two sides would go into arbitration if a deal isn't struck. Ultimately, if a deal is not reached, the Rams would be free to relocate after March 1, 2015.

    Considering the state of the economy — and the fact that the original construction debt still hasn't been paid off — publicly funded improvements to the Dome could be a tough sell.

    An even bigger challenge might be finding ways to modernize the Dome, at least by the latest NFL standards. The newest, glitziest stadiums have broken the billion-dollar mark and feature amenities the Dome would be hard-pressed to match.

    Cowboys Stadium in Texas, for example, features high-tech gadgets, such as child-tracking wristbands and a giant, center-hung HD screen. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis features a retractable roof and two 97-by-53-foot screens. The $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium in New York is billed as "piece of architectural history" on its website and includes giant HD video display boards in each corner of the building and a "ribbon" scoreboard that circles the interior bowl.


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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    A lot of people have the misunderstanding that if the dome isn't first tier, the Rams will leave. It just means the lease is voided and up for renegotiation. Let's look at 2 options: the Rams move to L.A. and give half the team to the builders of that stadium ($450 million). Or they could keep 100% of the team and buy the Dome from the CVC for the remaining balance outstanding in the debt ($75 millionish???)

    If the CVC sells it at break-even, they are out of the dome business and aren't stuck with an ugly duck should the Rams move away. If the Rams move, that thing will end up costing them far more than it brings in.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    the Rams move to L.A. and give half the team to the builders of that stadium ($450 million). ... If the CVC sells it at break-even, they are out of the dome business and aren't stuck with an ugly duck should the Rams move away. If the Rams move, that thing will end up costing them far more than it brings in.
    And this is why some are richer than others. Some people have the vision to make well-informed and calculated decisions that have no relation to luck. I suspect Stan-Lee has to ask himself what is parting with equity in the team worth amortized over the years vs the value of the team in the future based in Stl as opposed to LA. Fan indifference aside, if I was making book I'd lay odds that the value of 51% equity in an LA-based team vs 90+ equity in a STl-based team 25 years in the future favors being in LA ...

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by adarian_too View Post
    And this is why some are richer than others. Some people have the vision to make well-informed and calculated decisions that have no relation to luck. I suspect Stan-Lee has to ask himself what is parting with equity in the team worth amortized over the years vs the value of the team in the future based in Stl as opposed to LA. Fan indifference aside, if I was making book I'd lay odds that the value of 51% equity in an LA-based team vs 90+ equity in a STl-based team 25 years in the future favors being in LA ...
    Two teams already left the LA market for smaller pastures. Is LA worth more than St. Louis if the Raiders or Chargers are already in the market? I think LA better get used to the idea that the Raiders are in line for that move first. IMO, the deal with London kills the move to LA if it should become permanent. The NFL wants a team to be affiliated with London to sell tickets and apparel. They had Tampa and St. Louis negotiating. IMO, the radio rights and apparel sales associated with London will make the Rams worth significantly more.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    I think LA better get used to the idea that the Raiders are in line for that move first.
    Why not move the Raiders to St. Louis??? Yeah see how you like it??? What will they do to your city? That's like a death wish and tiny thugs running around your neighborhood stealing hubcaps and threatening you with knives. For me it's Rams or Chargers to LA. only!!! Raiders can stay on their side of Cali, PLEASE!!! LA is still recovering from when they were here before. If that's the case I don't want NFL in LA.

    NO RAIDERS IN LA!!! NO RAIDERS IN LA!!! NO RAIDERS IN LA!!!
    Last edited by LA Rammer; -01-25-2012 at 06:14 PM.
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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Two teams already left the LA market for smaller pastures. Is LA worth more than St. Louis if the Raiders or Chargers are already in the market? ... IMO, the deal with London kills the move to LA if it should become permanent. The NFL wants a team to be affiliated with London to sell tickets and apparel. They had Tampa and St. Louis negotiating. IMO, the radio rights and apparel sales associated with London will make the Rams worth significantly more.
    I think it is a fair point to cite to the fact that multiple teams in the same market will likely lessen the over-all value of each franchise. I'm not convinced however that negotiating a long-term deal over the Rams appearing in London will be concluded before Stan-Lee probably has to make a decision to renew or not with CVC. 3 years in London will get Stan-Lee thru the 2014 season just in time to head to other pastures after March 2015. Personally I think establishing a Ram presence in London in the near term positions him quite well to pitch the Rams in LA as a sister football city to London in the long term. Frankly, and it really isn't meant to be a diss of Stl, but I'm inclined to think that merchandising sales and media rights will more attractive with the Rams based in a more cosmopolitan city than Stl. Hell, Stl isn't even the beer capital anymore with In-Bev buying out Annhueser. All this is to say, that truely there are a whole host of variables and factors that will play out in the end in making the decision. I still maintain that the Rams don't fit in Stl. Never have. Never will. Some say one can't ever go home again. Maybe the Colts can't go back to Baltimore or the Ravens back to Cleveland, but I think the Rams to LA is doable ... and at least tilt the planet back on its axis in some small part.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Rammer View Post
    Why not move the Raiders to St. Louis???
    Probably because the Raiders front office has not made any mention of wanting to move the franchise to St. Louis, while they reportedly have said as much about moving the franchise to LA.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Probably because the Raiders front office has not made any mention of wanting to move the franchise to St. Louis, while they reportedly have said as much about moving the franchise to LA.
    True. However, it's one thing to say you want to move to L.A.. It's another thing, all together to have the opportunity. The AEG group has already made it clear that the Raiders are not a team they are willing to bring to their stadium.

    I also don't think the NFL wants the Raiders to move...again. I believe the NFL will steer the Raiders into making a deal to share stadium with the Whiners. That takes care of 2 franchises with 1 stadium. Don't think the NFL cares? Ask the Vikings owners. They have been vehemently opposed to building a new stadium in the same spot as their current stadium. However, yesterday they changed their tune. The NFL wants the Vikings in Minnesota. As long as a plan is approved to build a viable stadium, the NFL will never approve a Vikings move. So, just because a team threatens to move, doesn't mean the threat has teeth.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Truth View Post
    True. However, it's one thing to say you want to move to L.A.. It's another thing, all together to have the opportunity. The AEG group has already made it clear that the Raiders are not a team they are willing to bring to their stadium.

    I also don't think the NFL wants the Raiders to move...again. I believe the NFL will steer the Raiders into making a deal to share stadium with the Whiners. That takes care of 2 franchises with 1 stadium. Don't think the NFL cares? Ask the Vikings owners. They have been vehemently opposed to building a new stadium in the same spot as their current stadium. However, yesterday they changed their tune. The NFL wants the Vikings in Minnesota. As long as a plan is approved to build a viable stadium, the NFL will never approve a Vikings move. So, just because a team threatens to move, doesn't mean the threat has teeth.
    Ultimately, the NFL, or more to the point, the 32 NFL owners will do exactly what makes them the most money regardless of where teams do or do not play.

    Personally, I could care less if the Raiders move to LA or not. My reply which you quoted was merely answering LA Rammer's question of "Why not move the Raiders to St. Louis?".
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Can we go back to discussing First Tier status, and move the "Rams to LA" to the only authorized thread?

    Thanks!

    Now, as RebelYell says, this only means the lease can be voided. That does not mean a move. It could be that Stan would break the lease and build his own stadium at the old Fenton Plant, or maybe somewhere between St Louis and Columbia. If he built one in Warren County or Franklin County, that would still qualify as "St Louis", but would be a LOT cheaper in land costs. Some places in Warren County would give better egress to I-44, I-70, and I-64, and less traffic snags. But then there would be a 45 minute drive back into St Louis proper. He might also use the option that RebelYell mentioned in buying the current stadium. He could then earn more profits by leasing the stadium whenever the RAMS didn't need it.


    gap

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    The "first tier" language might as well state that the team can terminate the lease in 2015 at its discretion. It would be nearly impossible for the EJD to assert that the stadium is so clearly "first tier" (absent knocking it down and building a facsimile of the Cowboys' stadium) that the team would lack the option to terminate.

    Given that reality, this is simply a negotiation of a renewal of a lease. If Kroenke gets whatever consideration he is looking for (financial benefits, stadium upgrades, a modification of revenue sharing, etc.) he'll renew the lease and the Rams will stay.

    The EJD has virtually no leverage here, so expect Stan to drive a hard bargain, and expect the EJD to make major concessions.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    I have to be completely honest. I am From Orange county and grew up watching the Rams till they left for St Louis. I attended my first Ram game in St Louis Last yr when we beat the Washington Redskins and came out our slump. I did not think the Stadium was in that poor of condition or location. If St Louis is going to have a Stadium it needs to be in downtown.

    On the other hand. I was shocked that they moved the team from Anaheim to St Louis. There is no comparison of area. There must have been a lot of money passed under and over many tables to make that deal happen. It was a complete travesty when they left.

    If the Rams are seriously considering moving to LA. They will move to LA. END OF STORY.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by 1980Rams
    I was shocked that they moved the team from Anaheim to St Louis. There is no comparison of area.
    Care to elaborate on this opinion?
    "I'm not going to hide my opinions. They're coming to you between 7000-4000 Angstroms for all the world to see. Oh yes, you will be enlightened."

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy G. Biv View Post
    Care to elaborate on this opinion?
    Have you been to Anaheim? Southern California. St Louis? Come on. There is NO comparison in terms of location. NONE. The Rams Parking lot in Anaheim is worth more then the Dome and about 10 blocks all together. That is a reality. The area where they are going to move the Rams in LA. Is a Sports and Entertainment Complex. Its going to be a state of the Art facility. Next to Staples center in LA. That Dome will be empty in 2015. Its a for gone conclusion. Unless the city of St Louis gives the Dome and all its profits to Stan.

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    Re: 'First tier' is far from clear in Edward Jones Dome lease ..

    Quote Originally Posted by 1980RAMS View Post
    Have you been to Anaheim? Southern California. St Louis? Come on. There is NO comparison in terms of location. NONE. The Rams Parking lot in Anaheim is worth more then the Dome and about 10 blocks all together. That is a reality. The area where they are going to move the Rams in LA. Is a Sports and Entertainment Complex. Its going to be a state of the Art facility. Next to Staples center in LA. That Dome will be empty in 2015. Its a for gone conclusion. Unless the city of St Louis gives the Dome and all its profits to Stan.
    My apologies. I thought you were trying to be serious. Obviously I was mistaken.
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