The St. Louis Rams will be seeing much less of London in the next three years. An agreement to play one home game at London's Wembley Stadium in each of the next three seasons has been scaled back to only the 2012 game against the New England Patriots. Games scheduled for the 2013 and 2014 seasons are off the table as the team will instead focus on the process for making the Edward Jones Dome first tier.
The news was first announced in an email sent to season ticket holders on Monday, signed by vice president Kevin Demoff. The message read:
We wanted to let our season ticket holders know that in an effort to focus on the Edward Jones Dome First Tier Process with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the St. Louis Rams are withdrawing our commitment to play a home game in London in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
We are looking forward to playing in London this season as the NFL's international series offers a unique opportunity to grow the American football audience, expand the Rams' brand to international fans and enhance St. Louis on the global stage. However, moving forward, we believe our attention needs to be on the ongoing First Tier process.
We appreciate your continued loyalty and look forward to an exciting 2012 season beginning this Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome when we host the Kansas City Chiefs in the Governor's Cup!
News of the team's arrangements for playing in the UK rankled local fans already on edge over the team's tenuous lease situation. The Convention and Visitors Commission took issue with the decision on the grounds that it violated the lease by taking away a home game at the Edward Jones Dome.
A compromise was reached between the team and CVC, including an expanded window for convention use during the season, to allow the Rams to play in London this season.
The news comes as the Rams and the CVC are in the midst of (or at least getting closer to) arbitration over competing plans to upgrade the Dome. Obviously this was a sticking point between the Rams and the CVC, but the circumstances around it with regards to the current negotiations are unknown.
On the surface, it looks like a concession from the Rams. Then again, they may not have had much legal recourse, or negotiating room, to make the 2013 and 2014 games happen.
Reading the tea leaves on this is difficult, but it certainly will be welcome news to fans in St. Louis and season ticket holders who were disappointed at the loss of a regular season home game.