Will L.A.'s NFL Team Come From St. Louis?

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In a move that potentially frees up the Rams to move back to Los Angeles, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission has informed the professional football team that it would not be making $700 million worth of upgrades to its St. Louis stadium.

When the Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995, they signed a 30-year-lease with the city that required that the stadium -- now called the Edward Jones Dome -- would remain in the top 25 percent of stadiums in the league.

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The team demanded improvements, and in response the CVC put forward a plan. The Rams, guided by their owner Stan Kroenke, envisioned their own upgrades which included a sliding roof. The cost of that plan was $700 million, about a half a billion more than the CVC was willing to let taxpayers shoulder.

The matter went to arbitration, and in February, an arbitrator handed the team the victory.

Now, five months later, the CVC has informed the Rams in a letter that it would not receive the $700 million upgrade that was requested.

As a result, if there's no change in the situation, the Rams will be allowed to break its lease in 2014.

The NFL has been steadily preparing for a day when professional football would return to Los Angeles. Last year, league commissioner Roger Goodell wrote teams a letter that said, "Although substantial uncertainties remain, stadium development in Los Angeles has advanced to the point where the prospects for a new facility are better than they have been in many years."

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Teams interested in moving to Los Angeles were told to submit applications.

Kroenke, a real estate tycoon who bought the team in full in 2010, has long been rumored to have strong interest in owning a team in Los Angeles. Although born and educated in Missouri, he owns various professional sports teams outside the state (Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Arsenal). He was once one of the leading contenders to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Rams played in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1994. They got the nickname the "Hollywood Rams" during the '60s/'70s heyday of the Fearsome Foursome and won the league championship in 1999 on the strength of the arm of Kurt Warner, now the host of a reality TV show on USA Network.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

 

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