Local leaders reject Rams’ proposed changes to upgrade Edward Jones Dome

Brian McIntyre

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission informed the St. Louis Rams this week that they have officially rejected $700 million in proposed upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome, David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, informed Rams CEO Kevin Demoff of the decision in a July 3 letter.

"As the CVC is not the owner of the Facilities, the Sponsors have the ultimate financial responsibility for any improvements. It is my understanding that Mr. James R. Shrewsbury, Chairperson of the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, by letter dated July 3, 2013, has informed you that the Sponsors have concluded 'it would not be prudent to implement the Edward Jones Dome improvements suggested in the arbitrators’ March 20, 2013, Final Award'.

"Consequently, the CVC is not in a position to commit to the St. Louis Rams, LLC regarding the financing or as otherwise implementing such improvements."

Shrewsbury's corresponding letter informed the Rams that they still wish to negotiate, but "we simply don't have the money" to make the changes the Rams proposed.

According to Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the Rams have been unwilling to negotiate.

"Everybody’s on the same page," Rainford said, via the Associated Press. "It was a no-brainer. There was nobody in St. Louis who thought that the Rams proposal was a good idea, other than the Rams."

The Rams' lease at the Edward Jones Dome runs through 2025, but if upgrades to make the dome a "first-tier" facility (top eight in the NFL) by 2015, a clause in the agreement allows the Rams to break the lease after the 2014 season and could play in the building on a year-to-year basis.

In order to make the Edward Jones Dome a "first-tier" facility, the Rams proposed tearing down half of the existing dome in order to extend it, build a large glass wall, add a sliding roof with reconfigured seating and two end zone "party platforms", changes that contractors estimated would cost $700 million. The CVC had a more modest proposal that included a glass feature, outdoor terraces and a new scoreboard. That proposal, which was rejected by the Rams, had a $200 million price tag and the CVC wanted the Rams to pick up half the tab.

In February, an arbitrator ruled that the Rams' proposal was the only way to make the building a "first-tier" facility.

The Rams backed out of the final two seasons of a three-year commitment to play one home game in London, England in order to demonstrate their commitment to the city of St. Louis. With leaders in the St. Louis area rejecting the Rams' proposed changes, it may be up to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to keep the Rams from relocating, perhaps back to Los Angeles, in 2015.

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