ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams and owner Stan Kroenke view their current home as a two-sport city offering a stadium plan unbefitting of an NFL team, the organization told the league in its application for relocation to Los Angeles.
In the final section of that document, filed to the NFL on Monday, the Rams indicate that St. Louis has fallen so far behind economically that it can no longer support three professional sports teams. Also, the Rams say the stadium proposal put forth by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's task force and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) does not appeal to them, let alone any NFL team.
"No NFL club would be interested in the RSA's New St. Louis Stadium," the application reads. "Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed."
According to a study cited by the Rams, St. Louis, which also is home to MLB's Cardinals and the NHL's Blues, ranks 61st out of 64 major cities in recent economic growth and has the lowest population growth of any major U.S. city since 2008. In bold letters, the application says San Diego and Oakland are "substantially stronger markets than the St. Louis market."
Those are assessments to which the St. Louis task force quickly offered a dissenting opinion.
"The Rams' assessment of their experience in St. Louis after 21 seasons of remarkable support by fans, businesses and the community is inaccurate and extremely disappointing," the task force said in a statement. "We will remain in contact with league officials and team owners, as appropriate, in the days ahead of the meeting in Houston. Otherwise, nothing has changed. We have a spectacular stadium proposal that delivers the certainty the NFL has asked for, and we are and will continue to be an excellent home for the St. Louis Rams."
The 29-page document the Rams sent to the NFL is divided into three parts, which offer explanations as to why the Rams believe Kroenke's Inglewood project is superior to the Carson project put forth in tandem by the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, the ways the Rams believe they meet the NFL's guidelines for relocation and how leaving the St. Louis market for Los Angeles will strengthen the league.
"The Rams proposal to build a stadium and NFL campus in Inglewood, California meets every objective in the Commissioner's June 2012 memorandum, and the Rams' application meets each every relocation guideline and policy," the document begins. "The Rams Inglewood Project presents the League and all of the Member Clubs with the best opportunity for successful long-term operations in Los Angeles."
Included in the details of the Inglewood proposal is that the new stadium would not open until 2019, but the Rams have agreed to play in the NFL's international series at least once a year while occupying a temporary venue.
As for stadium specs, the nearly $1.9 billion stadium would take up about three million square feet, making it the largest stadium in the NFL. It calls for 70,240 fixed seats and could accommodate an additional 30,000 people in a standing-room-only capacity for large events. It also includes 274 suites, 16,300 premium seats and 12,675 dedicated surface parking spaces, all of which exceed the Carson project, according to the application.
The Rams argue that the ability to create additional space for large events would bring the NFL a potential windfall of up to $50 million more than Carson would if hosting a Super Bowl. The Rams also offer the stadium as a potential future home for the NFL scouting combine and the Pro Bowl.
"No NFL club would be interested in the RSA's New St. Louis Stadium. Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed."St. Louis Rams, in their Los Angeles relocation application
As for the area surrounding the stadium, the Rams' proposal discusses space carved out for the NFL to set up shop for television, media and digital centers, as well as the building of a performance venue next door that could serve as the home of the NFL draft, NFL awards ceremony and other league events.
The league has often said it plans to adhere to its relocation guidelines, which the Rams believe they have clearly followed.
In the second section of the document, the Rams argue that when the city of St. Louis violated its lease by not agreeing to pay for upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome following arbitration in 2013, they were free to leave, as the Dome authority was in violation of the lease.
Further, the Rams say they have been attempting to get a first-tier stadium -- as promised to them in their initial lease -- since long before the past few years.
"Twelve years of fruitless talks culminating in an intense one-year exchange of proposals in an agreed-upon process that cost the parties more than $7 million meets any standard of good faith community engagement," the application reads. "It is only fair and equitable to hold the RSA, the CVC and the Sponsors to their agreements."
In addition, the Rams argue that of the three teams vying to move to Los Angeles, they are the overwhelming favorite of NFL fans in the city, citing a variety of formal and informal polls. Those polls also indicate a preference for Inglewood as the stadium site.
"Polling throughout the relocation process has consistently shown the Rams, as a single team, have more fan support than the Chargers and Raiders combined," the document says.
Whether the Rams' argument will earn the approval for the team to return to Los Angeles remains to be seen. The NFL has scheduled owners meetings for Jan. 12 and 13 in Houston. The focus of those meetings will be to decide the team or teams that get to relocate to Los Angeles and which venue will be built.