A lawsuit between St Louis and the Los Angeles Rams over the Rams’ departure for Los Angeles, along with stadium details, will be settled for $710 million, the Rams and city leaders said Tuesday.
The Rams, now in Southern California, had threatened to cancel a deal for the new stadium. City leaders said they didn’t want to risk a lawsuit to keep the franchise in St Louis.
“The issue is settled because it’s in our best interest to settle it,” said St Louis mayor Lyda Krewson. “Our stand was, ‘Let’s do what we can to keep this team in St Louis.’ It wasn’t meant to be a precedent.
“We wanted this team in our stadium,” she said. “That’s why this team came to us. That’s why we put up a billion-dollar stadium. But as you know, it wasn’t good enough for them.”
During a brief news conference in St Louis, Rams owner Stan Kroenke thanked the city and its people. He said they didn’t want the city to “thwart progress”.
The city also would not risk losing an additional $100 million in state grants, City attorney Jim Bennett said. The money was to be used to build the $1.1bn stadium in the north St Louis riverfront area.
The city would have received $350m in state grants over the next 27 years, and that could have begun in a week or so if the lawsuit hadn’t been resolved, said Lieutenant Brian Millikan of the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
With both parties agreeing to the terms, it would not be formally announced until the state legislature adjourns in mid-September.
The football team and the city struck a deal in December on the terms of the stadium in the Rams’ former home. The city had been locked in a legal battle with the team over the deal, a fight which led to the front entrance to the dome being painted black and silver this month in support of keeping the team in St Louis.
The original agreement brokered a deal for the team to leave the dome by 2020, but Rams officials said in June that the issue had not been resolved and they wanted out sooner. They’ve been hammering out terms on the suit’s $700m settlement.
“A year ago today, the St Louis Rams drafted an agreement with the city to demolish the Edward Jones Dome and build a new stadium on the site,” Rams Vice-President Kevin Demoff said. “There are key elements to that agreement that have been held up by the litigation. We are pleased that the city and the team have reached an agreement that we both believe will put the dome legacy issue behind us and pave the way for a new, state-of-the-art stadium in St Louis.”
The Rams have said the team would leave after this season, when they will return to Los Angeles, where they haven’t played since 1946. The move came after years of political wrangling in St Louis, where the city threatened to block the relocation.
The stadium deal’s delay led to public anger and with the team threatening to leave St Louis and looking at possibilities in San Diego and Oakland.
St Louis-based law firm Clark Hill PLC worked with the Rams to negotiate the settlement. Jeff Puccinelli, the firm’s chief executive, said the law firm did not take part in the negotiation.
The Jackson County finance board, which guaranteed the bonds needed to build the stadium, has not been told the terms. Board member Bill Ryan said he was under the impression the city will receive a quarter of any settlement.
“I’m a little suspicious of this,” Ryan said. “I’m on the board, so it’s my duty to get this on our agenda.”