ST. LOUIS -- It's been a week of pretty pictures revealing elaborate plans not only for new NFL-sized stadiums in Los Angeles and St. Louis but also for trendy developments in and around those new venues. Those pictures sitting on an easel, coming across a wide-screen television, or printed on heavy stock as a handout look great but they don't mean much more than the paper they're printed on.
The intentions of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke are clear. The intentions of Dave Peacock, Bob Blitz and the city of St. Louis are also clear. There will be plenty of negotiations and conversations had over the next, well, who knows how long it will all take? But there are still many difficult questions that need to be asked and answered.
In the grand scheme of things, though, the future of the Rams in St. Louis could ultimately fall in the hands of the people who reside at 345 Park Avenue in New York City. That's home of the NFL offices, and if we've learned anything about the league in the past few years, it's that it will do what it believes is best for the league.
Considering that, it's no coincidence that as Peacock presented the St. Louis plan on Friday afternoon, he consistently referred to having an understanding of the bylaws and rules that dictate relocation in the NFL. He cited the league rules that say a team must exhaust all opportunities in its current city and referred to the rule that a team owner cannot move simply to enrich himself further.
There are other important to note provisions that say things like a team must put forth a "good faith" effort to negotiate with its current city before it can leave. That falls in line with the "exhaust all opportunities" portion of the rulebook.
To that end, Peacock, who has been working on the project for more than a year and putting in long hours for the past three months, emphasized the expedient efforts with which the St. Louis plan has come together.
"If we were moving in ’16 or ’17 on a new stadium, based on when this process started, I think that would be half the time a lot of other teams did," Peacock said. "I don’t necessarily buy the 'too little, too late.' ... I believe those NFL bylaws have been governing actions of the league for a while now and I have faith."
Of course, Kroenke's counter to that would point to the failed arbitration process to revamp the Edward Jones Dome as well as the time after that in which St. Louis made no real offers to keep the team. Even in the statement the Rams issued Friday afternoon, there were subtle hints of a team implying that it's been "good faith negotiating" well before Friday's reveal.
"The St. Louis Rams have worked for many years, with several agencies and commissions, and their senior management, responsible for stadium facilities in St. Louis," the statement read. "This includes multiple discussions with the Governor's recently formed NFL Task Force. We received the Task Force materials shortly before the press conference. We will review them and speak with the Task Force representatives."
The argument that the city didn't negotiate much during and after the arbitration process rings true but it also doesn't mean that all options were exhausted. Pointing to the differences in required public money and the idea of retrofitting the Edward Jones Dome to guarantee 10 more years rather than a long-term solution, Peacock doesn't see negotiations for a new stadium and arbitration for the old one as the same thing.
"Trying to compare that to our proposal is a little bit of apples and oranges," Peacock said.
When all is said and done, through the many permutations of what could happen, the NFL and its owners will be the ones to decide on what it values most. Kroenke offers the most tangible Los Angeles plan in two decades, and the league has made no bones about its desire to return to that market.
St. Louis offers a real, seemingly feasible plan to continue as an NFL city. And while the league has rules and bylaws, it's also showed plenty of willingness to alter direction toward what most benefits the overall health of the league.
For that reason, Peacock has been sure to keep the league in the loop every step of the way. He met with NFL executives in November and with the Rams and more league executives later on.
"We’ve had great discussions with the league," Peacock said. "The NFL is extremely engaged in this."
Meanwhile, some around the league were taken aback by the reveal of the Los Angeles plans on Monday but that doesn't make Kroenke's offer any less appealing.
It's highly unlikely that there will be a resolution to any of this anytime soon. In the meantime, at least now we know where Kroenke and St. Louis stand. Unless Kroenke and the Rams surprise by simply agreeing to St. Louis' plan, it's up to the NFL to determine what happens next.