ST. LOUIS (CN) – The National Football League violated its own relocation guidelines in favor of added revenue in allowing the Rams to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, three St. Louis entities claim in court.
The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, also called RSA, filed their lawsuit Wednesday in St. Louis City Circuit Court. The complaint names the NFL and all 32 teams and their owners as defendants.
St. Louis claims the Rams failed to meet the league’s relocation guidelines, which were adopted in 1984 after the Ninth Circuit ruled the NFL had violated antitrust statutes regarding the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Los Angeles.
“The Relocation Policy specifically provides that, prior to any relocation, ‘clubs are obligated to work diligently and in good faith to obtain and maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories, and to operate in a manner that maximizes fan support in their current home community,’” the complaint states. “Each club’s primary obligation is to ‘advance the interests of the League in its home territory.’”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an emailed statement that there is no legitimate basis for the lawsuit.
“While we understand the disappointment of the St. Louis fans and the community, we worked diligently with local and state officials in a process that was honest and fair at all times,” McCarthy said.
As part of the policy, team wishing to move must submit a proposal about certain factors that have been addressed with the team’s current market.
Those factors include: the extent to which the club has satisfied its “principal obligation” of “serving the fans in its current community;” the extent to which fan loyalty to and support for the club have been demonstrated in the current community; the willingness of the stadium authority or community to replace a deficient current stadium; the extent to which the club received direct or indirect public support for its current facility; the degree to which the club has engaged in good faith negotiations with the stadium authority and others concerning terms and conditions under which the club would remain in its current home territory; and the extent to which the owners or managers of the club contributed to circumstances that might demonstrate a need for relocation.
“Under the Relocation Policy, teams must work with diligence and in good faith to remain in their home community and cannot relocate unless the Policy is satisfied,” the 52-page lawsuit states. “With the Relocation Policy in place, plaintiffs made substantial investments in [the Edward Jones Dome.] Plaintiffs paid expenses and interest on 30-year bonds used to finance the construction. The City and County both paid 25% of the bond obligations, including millions in maintenance expenses. The City and County each incurred bond cost obligations of $180 million. The City and County collected hotel taxes to service their obligations and paid these obligations out of general revenue funds.”
The plaintiffs claim they installed a new playing surface and made $30 million in renovations to the Edward Jones Dome, including the installation of two new end zone video scoreboards.