I doubt the St. Louis Rams expected the response they got to the news that they would be playing one home game in each of the next three seasons in London. In case you decided to keep your IQ above 75 and avoid local talk radio for the last two weeks, let me just say that fans did not receive the news well. I believe PR shit storm might be the most apt description. Now, the Rams may have run afoul of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, who claims that their decision to play in the UK at the expense of one of their home games violates their lease on the Edward Jones Dome.
That sound you heard was Stan Kroenke shrugging ... or maybe counting his "jack."
"We immediately brought this to the Rams' attention and are awaiting their response," the CVC said in a statement reported in the Post-Dispatch on Friday.
Reports of this first surfaced this morning on KTRS. We reached out to the Rams for clarification, but have yet to receive a response.
It's hard to believe that this possibility wasn't considered, unless by some strange chance the Rams haven't really paid attention to the details in their bargain basement lease on the Ed Jones Dome. Somehow I doubt that, since the franchise is fully aware of their out clause in the lease come 2015 and the steps that must be taken between now and then to resolve that issue.
The first milestone in the lease negotiations happens next Wednesday, Feb. 1, when the CVC is due to present a plan to the Rams for upgrading the Dome to put it in compliance with the "top tier" clause that lets them out in 2015.
As for who gets the say in what constitutes "top tier," that ultimately falls to the arbitrator, should the two sides go that far. Of course, arbitration is non-binding.
Fan feelings about the potential for the Rams to leave are already a little raw in the wake of the relocation talk during the Jeff Fisher saga and the London news. In fact, one local nut got tossed in the pokey for making death threats on KTRS.
The Rams went on a minor PR offensive in the wake of the poorly-received London news. Now, the lease negotiations start in less than a week with more than a hint of acrimony.
[Note by Ryan Van Bibber, 01/27/12 5:22 PM EST ] As nextSTL points out, this is obviously a leverage play by the CVC, their tit to the Rams' tat of deciding to play in London. As for how much leverage it buys them, that remains to be seen. I suspect not a whole lot in the grand scheme, emphasis on scheme, of a deal of this magnitude.
I'll say this, when politics start getting factored in, I think you have to favor the Rams. Stan Kroenke is a master of getting public bucks for suburban shopping center developments, and those lessons won't be lost in the Dome negotiations. I suspect that in the end, the city and state will pony up a sizable amount of money to keep the Rams here ... and not run afoul of a billionaire whose day job is directly associated with one of the largest corporations in America.
Six months ago, with the Vikings lease on the Metrodome up at the end of the season, it seemed impossible for the team to get any public money, with members of both parties blustering about tight public budgets. All that's changed since then, and another cash-strapped state walked back from previous statements. Whether you agree or disagree with taxpayers dollars for stadiums (I tend to think schools and universities and infrastructure make for better investments), politicians of both parties tend to acquiesce in stare downs with corporations who fund campaigns.
Updated at 12:25EST by DouglasM
Here is a the Rams response to the St. Louis CVC courtesy of ESPN's Mike Sando: