ST. LOUIS -- Three days after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke's Los Angeles relocation application admonishing the city was released to the public, the St. Louis stadium task force offered a formal, detailed response.
In a five-page letter sent to the league office and the NFL's 32 owners Friday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's task force took Kroenke and the Rams to task for what they believe to be an over-the-top attack on St. Louis and its fans.
"We were not prepared, however, for the cruel attack and false claims made by our local team owner, to his league peers, in an attempt to punish and embarrass St. Louis," the letter said. "No matter the justification for relocation -- and the falsehoods in the Statement of Reasons strongly suggest the Rams have no justification to vacate St. Louis -- the style in which their point was made was unprecedented, personal, groundless and unbecoming of a steward representing what we feel is the greatest professional sports league in the world."
The letter begins by calling the upcoming decision on whether the Rams, San Diego Chargers and/or Oakland Raiders will be allowed to relocate to Los Angeles "one of the most important decisions the NFL will ever make."
From there, the task force goes point by point in an effort to refute Kroenke's claims, especially the ones centered on St. Louis' ability to support three professional sports teams, the viability of the task force's stadium proposal on the city's north riverfront and what it believes are falsehoods about the lease, the arbitration and their effect on relocation.
Among the points the task force makes is that the $400 million put forth in the stadium proposal would be the fifth-highest public contribution for a stadium in NFL history and that the Rams' revenue rank would increase from 28th to near the top half of the league with a new stadium.
The letter goes on to dispute Kroenke's claims about his level of engagement with the community and his attempts to negotiate in good faith, other than the arbitration about improvements on the Edward Jones Dome in 2012 and 2013.
Kroenke's relocation application sparked a lot of anger in St. Louis earlier this week, with mayor Francis G. Slay pointing out that he's never met Kroenke and County Executive Steve Stenger referring to Kroenke's proposal as "demonstrably preposterous."
Despite all of that, the task force closes the letter by saying that they are still open to talking to Kroenke and hopeful of forging a long-term relationship with him.
"We want to assure the NFL of this: St. Louis can and will work with Stan Kroenke," the letter reads. "No irreparable harm has been done to our relationship or the potential to forge a true partnership that will serve the NFL, the Rams and St. Louis for decades to come.
"St. Louis is an NFL town. It is home to the St. Louis Rams and our team owner is Mr. Kroenke. We look forward to the next chapter and sincerely appreciate you taking the time to consider our response."
The NFL's owners are scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston with a final vote on relocation expected but not guaranteed.