On Friday, June 8, the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission turned over multiple documents on the Edward Jones Dome lease situation to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A day later, the newspaper released some interesting tidbits from letters they received.
One piece of information that drew my eye was the document that the CVC sent to the St. Louis Rams, which offered to reduce their lease by five years in exchange for dropping the first-tier stadium requirement. The offer included $48 million in public funds for improvements on the dome.
I have a problem with this proposal. What was the CVC thinking when it offered to reduce the lease by five years? I'm guessing that the CVC believed it could come up with a new stadium plan to house the Rams after 2020, but why would the team accept that offer? Under the current lease, the Rams are not responsible for maintaining the Edward Jones Dome. The CVC is. But if the team agrees to reduce the lease, it would be expected to help build a new stadium in the future. It seems like the CVC was trying to manipulate the situation, and the Rams were right to reject their offer.
A lot of St. Louis fans are angry at the Rams for coming up with grandiose plans for the Edward Jones Dome while not offering to put any money into the project. However, they are simply following the terms of their lease. If you look at the Rams' documents, they consistently refer to the lease and the first-tier requirement.
The truth is that their proposal would create a top-tier stadium that would serve as a downtown centerpiece in St. Louis. It would be capable of hosting the first Super Bowl in the city's history. Yes, it would require some sacrifices on the city's part, but the Rams' proposal would accomplish much more than the CVC's $170 million offer. The CVC's proposal is nothing more than a temporary fix, and it certainly isn't enough to create a first-tier stadium.
The Rams' offer shoots for the stars, but it's far more realistic than either of the two proposals the CVC has made. Letting the Rams out of their lease five years early isn't going to solve anything, not when there's no guarantee that the city's taxpayers will fit the bill for a brand new complex. If the CVC truly wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis, they need to get serious. Both offers that it has made to the team fail to solve the problem.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.