Rams Leave Saint Louis and Missouri With $100 Million Debt
O n the domed stadium which once sported the logo of Trans World Airlines back in 2002 — TWA has been defunct since 2001 — is a logo device bearing the name Edward Jones. Consummating a deal with the Rams professional football team, the financial company signed for the naming rights with the franchise — not with the regional tourism commission which operates the facility on behalf of the dome authority; and in 2012, it extended the naming rights deal until the year 2025 for $42.3 million — but that deal was contingent on the Rams staying in Saint Louis.
The only problem — and it is a huge problem — is that the Rams returned to Los Angeles and left the Missouri city high and dry.
Rams Leave Saint Louis and Missouri With $100 Million Debt
“The state, St. Louis County and St. Louis city teamed up to pay $300 million for dome construction in 1991, before the Rams agreed to move to St. Louis. The state pays about $12 million a year toward debt and upkeep; the city and county each pay about $6 million”, according to this article written by David Hunn for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The three still owe a collective $100 million, due in 2021.”
That is not all, according to the article: the city expects to lose approximately $4.2 million per year as tax revenue falls as a result of the departure of the team to Los Angeles; and the task force to plan a new stadium in the hopes of enticing the team to stay has already spent $16 million to date.
Meanwhile, Edward Jones could create a separate naming deal with the dome authority; and it also has the option to terminate its agreement if the Rams terminated its use of the domed stadium for its home games. No final decision has been reached pertaining to those naming rights.
No More Professional Football in Saint Louis?
This abandonment of Saint Louis by the Rams left some people with the consensus that the city is done with professional football; and according to the aforementioned article, Francis Slay — the current mayor of Saint Louis — said that “the city’s dealings with the league should be a warning to other local governments across the nation.”
To me, this answers my question pertaining to whether or not stadiums and sports teams are really worth the money; and my answer would be a resounding “no!”
The article also takes a look into the lucrative market of naming rights for a stadium. Airlines alone have spent millions of dollars simply to have their logos adorned on the stadium.
It is enough to wonder why airports have not yet entered the market of having large corporations pay for the naming rights of an airport. Are airports leaving many millions of dollars on the table; or does Coca-Cola International Airport not sound quite right?
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016 that season ticket prices will range from $360.00 to $2,025.00 in eight price categories.
Is Legislation the Answer?
You might recognize the name of Claire McCaskill — who is a Democratic senator of the United States representing the state of Missouri and a former chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security — as she introduced legislation prohibiting management of hotel and resort properties from charging resort fees specifically designed to be initially hidden from the consumer; requiring disclosure of said resort fees; and include the full cost of a stay in the room rate.
She was exasperated enough by the decision of the National Football League to approve the move of the Rams back to Los Angeles for the first time in 21 years that she began drafting a bill to attempt to return public dollars from professional sports teams which leave their hometowns prematurely, calling the years spent planning the new $1.1 billion riverfront stadium a “useless exercise” on what could have been a “massive” public investment.
Echoing the words of the mayor, “I have a chance to make sure no other community will get treated like St. Louis,” she said, according to the aforementioned article. “The heart of the NFL isn’t just in the mega media markets.”
Were anti-trust laws violated because the National Football League may not have complied with its own relocation guidelines? Could a lawsuit against the National Football League be pending?
What is This Article Doing at BoardingArea?
Professional sports teams enjoy a significant income from official sponsors and partners — especially from airlines such as Delta Air Lines, which has entered into partnerships and deals worth multiple millions of dollars with a number of sports entities, with the latest being the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Realize that there is a good possibility that a fraction of your airfare is most likely going towards the partnership with a professional sports entity — which is of no comfort to the residents and businesses of Saint Louis.
As for now, the dome authority has little choice but to focus on landing events and conventions, with possible hearings to be held pertaining to potential future uses of the domed stadium and alternatives for the riverfront itself, which was to have “residential towers, hotels, shops, a high-tech business incubator, plus wetlands, green space and parks stretching more than a mile, from the Gateway Arch grounds to the new Mississippi River bridge.”
I am not opposed to airlines entering into partnerships of various levels with professional sports entities to capitalize on what can be perceived as an unrealistic allegiance to a professional sports team by fans — which originated from the word fanatics; and probably for good reason — who will pay significant sums of money just to attend games in those fancy new stadiums…
…and that is where part of the fault lies.
Sometimes there is nothing like attending a game with a few friends to enjoy the camaraderie during a night out or on a day with fantastic weather; but the costs associated with attending those games can be as high as an airplane at cruising altitude when the tickets for the game itself are factored in with the costs of parking, food and souvenirs for each person…
…but to see in the age of billion-dollar sports a team leaving a city — which has spent significant amounts of money and provided resources on the backs of taxpayers to keep them there — with a mountain of debt for a now-empty stadium built exclusively for the team is unfathomable. Many entities share in the blame here pertaining to the stratospheric idolization of professional sports where a significant amount of time and money are spent cheering on a bunch of multi-millionaires who most likely do not even come from the city which the team represents…
…and even a team like the Rams will shed its home city for another home city in the name of money — and possibly greed.
Brooklynites still have not forgotten about the day in infamy sixty years ago when the Dodgers left their beloved borough for Los Angeles, where they currently play professional baseball. You would think that a valuable lesson would have been learned way back then…
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.