Rams Blast St. Louis in|Bid for Move to L.A.

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – The Rams questioned St. Louis’ ability to support three professional sports teams and blasted the city’s proposed riverfront stadium in the team’s application for relocation to Los Angeles sent to the NFL on Monday.
     The Rams stated that the St. Louis region is losing population and lacks the economic drivers to support the NFL and despite “significant” investments in the team, game attendance still lags below the league average. Those investments included spending to the salary cap for players and increased coaching and scouting budgets.
     The 29-page application states those investments have resulted in a 52 percent increase in winning percentage since Kroenke took over.
     The application said the proposed $1 billion riverfront stadium designed to keep the Rams in St. Louis would be a detriment to the league.
     “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,” the applicant states.
     On the other hand, the application lavishes praise on Kroenke’s proposed $2 billion stadium in Inglewood, stating it provides the NFL with the best economic opportunity in Los Angeles.
     The stadium is shovel-ready and can open in 2019. It is designed to house two NFL teams and can hold more than 100,000 people, including 30,000 in standing room only.
     “The stadium footprint is nearly three million square feet, which makes the proposed stadium the largest in the NFL,” the application states. “This size is necessary to provide both teams with the suitable space to operate on game day. The design of the stadium is equitable to both home teams as the size and location of the owners’ suites, locker rooms, support areas and team offices are identical.”
     The Rams claim the stadium would serve “as the epicenter for a NFL retail and entertainment district” and a Super Bowl in the stadium could generate as much as $50 million for the NFL.
     Dave Peacock, co-chairman of Gov. Jay Nixon’s riverfront stadium task force, responded to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch late Tuesday, arguing that St. Louis is a good market.
     Peacock told the paper that the Rams’ analysis of the St. Louis plan contains “inconsistencies and inaccuracies” and he said the team picked St. Louis statistics they wanted to use.
     “And that’s probably not surprising,” Peacock told the Post-Dispatch. “Their job is not to give a balanced argument.”
     Peacock argued that it’s not just about market size; it’s about the team’s performance, on and off the field.
     Even with the improvements Kroenke has made as owner of the Rams, the application doesn’t mention the fact that the Rams still haven’t had a winning season in nine seasons, the longest current streak in the NFL. That streak includes a five year stretch in which the Rams went 15-65, which is the worst five-year stretch in modern NFL history.
     “The St. Louis Cardinals outperform their market size, and the Blues, with new engaged ownership, have dramatically changed their economics in the last few years,” Peacock told the Post-Dispatch.
     The Rams application also makes convincing arguments that the Inglewood proposal is better than the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders joint proposal to share a stadium in Carson, Calif. All three teams officially submitted relocation applications to the NFL on Monday and are vying for two spots in Los Angeles, which hasn’t had an NFL team since the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season.
     The NFL declined to release any of the relocation applications. The Rams released their application Tuesday.
     The application also made the case that the Rams have the biggest need to move out of the three teams. It claims that San Diego and Oakland are “significantly more attractive markets than St. Louis,” stating that San Diego is the 12th most attractive metropolitan area in the country and that Oakland’s gross domestic product is expected to rise above neighboring San Francisco’s in 10 to 15 years.
     The application presents a more dire economic situation in the Rams’ home market, claiming that St. Louis ranks 61 among the largest 64 U.S. cities and it has the lowest rate of population growth of any major U.S. city since 2008.
     “Compared to all other U.S. cities, St. Louis is struggling,” the application states.
     The St. Louis Stadium Taskforce released a statement regarding the application late Tuesday.
     “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 Taskforce said. “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.”
     Several key NFL committees will review the applications this week in New York. The full league ownership will consider the issue, and is expected to vote on Los Angeles relocation, during its meetings in Houston next week.

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