St. Louis Objects to $1 Property Deal by Rams


     CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – The same lease that allowed the Rams to move to Los Angeles may also allow the team to buy its former practice facility in a St. Louis suburb for $1, according to a lawsuit.
     The Jones Dome Authority, the public board the governs the Rams’ former home the Edward Jones Dome, filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the Rams from buying the Earth City, Mo., property, known as Rams Park. The 27-acre piece of land was once appraised for $19 million.
     The authority leased Rams Park to the team for $25,000 a year. Now it wants to sell the land to refill its bank accounts after it spent more than $16 million in a futile effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis.
     A clause in the Rams lease gives the team the option to buy the facility for $1 after the dome’s 29th anniversary in 2024.
     Though the Rams’ lease on the dome expires this month and its lease for Rams Park is set to expire April 30, the clause in question says that the option to buy the facility “shall survive any termination of the Lease regardless of the reason for such termination, and Lessee shall after any termination continue to have the right to exercise the Option as herein provided,” according to the lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
     The complaint seeking declaratory relief was filed by attorneys from Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch in St. Louis.
     The authority argues in the suit that the Rams didn’t terminate the lease, because they exercised a provision in the lease to go year-to-year and the year simply expires. The authority claims the $1 clause survives a termination, not an expiration.
     “If I hire you as a journalist for a year, but fire you six months later, that’s a termination of a contract,” Blitz Attorney Christopher Bauman told Courthouse News. “But if you work for a year and the contract is simply not renewed, that’s an expiration. That is basically what happened with the Rams.”
     The authority also says the agreement allows the Rams to have the option forever and the law does not allow someone to tie up a property in perpetuity.
     The suit seeks to find an answer to the clause.
     The authority claims it would be difficult to sell the property with the clause.
     “It’s not necessarily that they couldn’t sell the property, but they couldn’t sell it for what they could get out of it with an invalid option clouding the title,” Bauman said in an interview.
     The same lease allowed the Rams to move if the Edward Jones Dome wasn’t in the top tier of NFL stadiums after a period of years.
     The Rams left more than $400 million in public financing for a new stadium on the table and blasted the region in an application to move that was made public by team officials in January.
     Later that month, NFL owners approved the Rams’ move to Los Angeles.
     Bauman told Courthouse News that it was his understanding that the team plans to exercise the clause.
     Rams attorney Alan Bornstein didn’t immediately return a call Friday morning from Courthouse News seeking comment.

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