On the eve of the NFL’s fall owners meeting in New York, which is taking on a distinct Los Angeles feel, a well-timed news item was dropped by the St. Louis task force in charge of putting together a stadium deal to keep the Rams in Missouri.
One it hopes turns heads among NFL owners tasked with deciding whether to approve or reject Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s dream home in Los Angeles.
The task force announced that National Car Rental has agreed to name a prospective St. Louis football stadium for 20 years and $158 million, which represents an increase from revenue the Rams currently yield from the naming rights at their current stadium, the Edward Jones Dome.
The deal was arranged by the St. Louis stadium task force and signed with the St. Louis Regional Sports Authority, which would own the stadium.
On the surface, it looks like a significant win in St. Louis’ efforts to keep the Rams. And while it might not be enough to sway the support Kroenke currently has by some owners, it might tilt the field in St. Louis’ direction with owners sitting on the fence.
That still remains to be seen, of course. Owners are currently working their way through the complicated matter – which includes the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders joint stadium effort in Carson – and hope to have a decision by January.
On the flip side, after doing some poking around the last couple of days in New York, it’s safe to say there is growing concern within the NFL that Missouri and St. Louis actually gets their stadium deal over the goal line. The league appreciates and is encouraged by the progress local leaders have made, but are growing anxious due to the delayed submittal of a promised deal term sheet.
Meanwhile, there are obstacles in the way of approving the deal and growing concern the project may cost taxpayers more than originally anticipated.
Those are real challenges, and as an NFL source told me this week, until a deal is officially in place it’s really all just talk for now.
And that doesn’t even get into the fact the Rams really have no desire to remain in St. Louis, even if their Los Angeles bid is rejected.
Sources have mentioned Kroenke might simply go back to the Edward Jones Dome on one-year leases and turn attention to Toronto or London. And if the Chargers and Raiders move to Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego could be markets he looks considers buying land and developing a new home for the Rams.