Class Action Says Rams Misled Fans on Move

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – Rams executives misled fans about the team’s intention to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles in order to induce the fans to continue to buy tickets and merchandise, a class action claims.
     Four fans filed the class action against The St. Louis Rams LLC, The St. Louis Rams Partnership and the ITB Football Company in city court. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the NFL officially announced the Rams move to Los Angeles.
     Speculation on a Rams move back to Los Angeles increased after owner Stan Kroenke bought a large parcel of land in Inglewood, Calif., in 2014. On Wednesday, NFL owners officially approved Kroenke’s plan to build a $2.6 billion stadium on that site.
     The plaintiffs claim that despite the speculation, they trusted statements made by Kroenke and Rams COO Kevin Demoff concerning the team’s desire to stay in St. Louis.
     The plaintiffs cite a variety of Kroenke comments including a 2010 interview he had with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which he said, “I’m going to attempt to do everything I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis. Just as I did everything I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves. There’s a track record. I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I’m stepping up one more time.”
     The plaintiffs say Demoff made the following statement on the Rams’ website in 2012, “…Stan has been emphatic on this point: He didn’t lead the charge to bring the Rams back to St. Louis to lead the charge out of St. Louis. … Our goal is to build a winner in St. Louis not only in 2012, but in 2022, 2032 and beyond. This city deserves better NFL football and that is what we are focused on every day.”
     Even after the purchase of the Inglewood property, the plaintiffs claim Demoff gave an interview on 101.1 ESPN radio in St. Louis and when asked about the Rams’ long term future, he responded, “I expect it will be right here in St. Louis.”
     The plaintiffs claim those statements were intentionally misleading.
     “As early as 2013 and possibly before, Kroenke began targeting acquisition of the Inglewood, CA stadium site,” the complaint states.
     “Even after acquiring the Inglewood property in January 2014 (at the latest), defendants did not disclose their desire to move the Rams to Inglewood.”
     The plaintiffs say the Rams never informed their customers of their intent to move to Los Angeles until Jan. 4, 2015. The plaintiffs claim they were induced into buying tickets and other Rams merchandise while the defendants knew their intention was to move to Los Angeles.
     The plaintiff claim the Rams’ relocation application, released by the team last week, demonstrated the team’s desire to “lead the charge” out of St. Louis. The application blasted the city’s economic status and painted the city as unable to support three professional sports teams.
     “Defendants knew or should have known of all of these ‘facts’ at the time of all their previous representations regarding the future of the Rams in St. Louis,” the lawsuit states.
     The plaintiffs claim the relocation application contained numerous factual errors designed to paint St. Louis in a negative light. Those allegations have since been refuted by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and by an article by Forbes, according to the complaint.
     The proposed class consists of all fans who have bought Rams tickets, merchandise or concessions between April 10, 2010 and Jan. 4, 2015.
     The class seeks damages for violations of the Merchandising Practices Act.
     Courthouse News obtained the lawsuit after business hours so neither Plaintiffs’ Attorney Steven J. Stolze nor the Rams were available for comment.

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