Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Rams Could Leave St. Louis...and It'd Be Easier Than You Think...

Note: I left this reply on a post referencing Shane Gray's column on STLtoday's Rams Talk message board. Shane does fantastic work, but his post finally got me to lay out, clearly, why the Rams could easily leave St. Louis after next season. Because I'm a toddler and NO ONE PAID ATTENTION TO ME, I decided to syndicate my reply here. Sorry--sometimes the truth hurts...
-D.J.

Shane, love you man, you do great work, but I think you're a bit off on this one.


Everyone says that it doesn't matter where an NFL team is located due to revenue sharing. On the most shallow level, that's absolutely true.

Howevah, what a lot of people don't seem to realize is that teams get to keep luxury box and club seat revenue for themselves. Otherwise, why would Jerry Jones build his palace in the desert? It wasn't so that he could feel like "more of a man," but rather so that he could double-deck those boxes, charge them insane amounts for pizzas and sixers, and keep all of it for himself per NFL rules.

Ever taken a look at the club level or boxes at a Rams game? Depressingly empty. You know what the worst part about it is? We, as the common folk, can't do anything to change it. We know deep in our guts that the 1%s in this town don't give a flying care about the Rams, and we can't buy spots in their boxes and club seats.

In L.A., there would be a waiting list for these seats, starting with the movie studios and moving on to trans-Pacific ventures. We can complain all we want about how "great the lease is for Stan!" and how "he's from here, so how can he betray us?", but all Stan cares about (sadly for him) is cold, hard, cash.

Not to mention that an L.A. stadium could host a variety of music headliners year-round outside of football games. These would pump millions into Stan's pocket with little-to-no risk.

Think Sam has a sweetheart deal here? Try squaring that away with a stadium on which he owes NOTHING once it's built, combined with a development outside of it from which he takes a fraction of every dollar spent.

"Oh, but what about a relocation fee?" $700 million to triple your franchise value from $750 mill to $2.2 billion--this is a problem because...? If nothing else, the increase in franchise value would cover the stadium, to boot!

"But he can't move the team without the approval of the league!" Actually, yes he can. Al Davis (of all people!) laid the groundwork in the 90s with his antitrust suit against the NFL. He won. I don't care what the owners have contracted with one another for with regard to the LA market, if Stan moved the team, it would end up as an antitrust suit, because of the horizontal allocation of territories. The LAST thing the NFL wants is an antitrust suit--antitrust suits allow the prevailing party to recover triple (3x) damages, in addition to wearing down various legal protections that the NFL has enjoyed to this point, including its "non-profit" status.

That doesn't mean that such a move will be a lock--there are permits to obtain, EISs to get, etc. This is more of a procedural speed bump than anything else, though--any team of halfway-decent lawyers should be able to hammer those out. The only one that could REALLY hold up a stadium is the FAA approval for a stadium so close to LAX, but Al Davis apparently got that approval years ago.


My guess? Stan is looking out for himself. If he can persuade Missouri taxpayers to foot the bill for a new stadium, he'll (perhaps reluctantly) take it. If not, he'll have those Mayflower trucks backing up to Rams Park before you can say "2nd overall pick in the draft."

I don't write these things to scare people, but rather to educate them. I think Stan's counting on the Missouri legislature to rebuff any stadium proposal put forward, leaving him free to move wherever.

What you can do is start to contact your state representatives--let them know that you WILL NOT vote for them if the Rams leave town. You become a single-issue voter on the Rams stadium issue. They may not "want" to move, but if a vote in the legislature fails, they'll be "left with little choice."

If not, don't blame me when they move out to L.A....

-D.J.

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