ST. LOUIS — The National Football League and the Rams will pay $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed by St. Louis interests over the teams move to Los Angeles five years ago, according to a statement from city and county officials.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell approved the settlement Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The agreement binds the league to pay St. Louis, St. Louis County and the public agency that owns The Dome at America’s Center within 30 days, the newspaper reported. The league will determine internally how much will be paid by Rams owner Stan Kroenke and how much by the league and owners, the Post-Dispatch reported, quoting anonymous sources.
“It’s done,” former St. Louis Circuit Judge Jack Garvey, who mediated the deal, told the newspaper.
In a civil suit, city and county officials alleged that Rams executives, NFL officials and other teams’ owners had encouraged the building of a stadium in St. Louis in an effort to keep the franchise, which moved eastward from Los Angeles in 1995.
According to the lawsuit, St. Louis officials spent $17 million on designs and plans for a new stadium, but the NFL ignored those efforts and voted 30-2 to allow the Rams to move back to California, The New York Times reported.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 10, 2022, NFL.com reported. The lawsuit sought more than $1 billion in damages, claiming the team’s move cost the St. Louis region millions of dollars in amusement, ticket and earnings tax revenue, according to ESPN.
“This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process,’’ St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a statement.
The settlement does not include an expansion football team for St. Louis, a city that also lost the NFL’s Cardinals when the Bidwill family moved the franchise to Arizona after the 1988 season.
“This entire lawsuit is a wake-up call to the NFL,” Garrett Broshuis, a St. Louis lawyer and adjunct law professor at St. Louis University, told the Post-Dispatch. “This resulted in a substantial sum of money. And a payment like this really hits home. That’s where the owners actually feel things, is when it hits their wallet.”
The payout comes on top of the $550 million relocation fee that Kroenke paid to the NFL for the right to move to Los Angeles, the Times reported. Kroenke also paid approximately $5 billion to build SoFi Stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, according to the newspaper.
The stadium will host the Super Bowl in February.
Georgia Frontiere, who owned the Rams during the 1990s, moved the Rams from Los Angeles to her hometown of St. Louis. Kroenke, a Missouri real estate developer who is married to an heir of the Walmart fortune, became a minority owner when the team first arrived in St. Louis, according to ESPN. Frontiere died in 2008, and her children sold the Rams to Kroenke in 2010.
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