The Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles is now official, but there’s still $144 million worth of baggage for which their former home is still on the hook. One senator is trying to prevent that from happening again.
The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri are paying off bonds for the construction of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis — which opened in 1995 — through 2021. According to several reports, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last June, the state of Missouri is paying $12 million a year, and the city and county are each paying $6 million a year for the bonds issued to build the dome. With six years left, that amounts to $72 for Missouri, $36 million for St. Louis and $36 million for St. Louis County for a total of $144 million, as reporter Dave Hogg noted.
Missouri leaders are furious at the Rams and the National Football League. One leader, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, does not want other cities to feel St. Louis’ pain. McCaskill, a Democrat, and her staff are in the early stages of drafting a bill that would require professional sports teams to refund the public if they leave town. Missouri’s other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, has expressed interest in co-sponsoring the bill, she says.
St. Louis “stepped up, in good faith,” McCaskill says, on plans to spend $400 million in local and state tax dollars on the proposed $1.1 billion riverfront stadium in St. Louis that would have kept the Rams in St. Louis.
“I’m confident at this point that the NFL used excuses to turn down our stadium project,” McCaskill told the Post-Dispatch. “There’s no question in my mind that, years ago, (Rams owner) Stan Kroenke made up his mind he was going to L.A.”
Once drafted, the chances that this bill is passed may be slim, but McCaskill pointed out a similar situation in St. Louis that led to NFL reform. In 1988, St. Louis lost the NFL’s Cardinals to Phoenix, but before the Cardinals left, Missouri Senators Jack Danforth and Thomas Eagleton supported a bill to mandate NFL relocation procedures. The bill made it out of committee, the Post-Dispatch reported, and before it went to a vote, the NFL adopted its own set of relocation guidelines “using very similar language,” McCaskill noted.
“I have a chance to make sure no other community will get treated like St. Louis,” McCaskill told the newspaper. “The heart of the NFL isn’t just in the mega media markets.”