Rams' Edward Jones Dome Proposal: Things to Remember as the Process Continues

Justin GibsonCorrespondent IIIMay 14, 2012

The St. Louis Rams' counter-proposal to the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) was released to the public yesterday, and called for major renovations to the Edward Jones Dome.

The Rams' proposal, which can be read in its entirety online, calls for many improvements, including but not limited to:

- Moving roof panels in to allow for more natural light. The panels would be in a small portion of the roof.

- The east side of the Dome to be demolished, adding new entrances and party areas.

- Two video scoreboards in the northeast and southwest corners of the stadium measuring 37'x97'.

- Fixed general and club seating and a removable playing field surface that would provide approximately 66,000 seats for an NFL game. Lower bowl would be completely remodeled.

- Increased and expanded public amenities such as concession stands, stores and public toilets.

- Upgrades to the Rams' locker room and personnel offices.

In the proposal, the Rams tasked the CVC to find cost estimates and pricing for the renovations. A source within the CVC told Fox 2 Now that the Rams proposed improvements would close the Edward Jones Dome for two to three years and cost nearly $700 million.

A few things to consider regarding the Rams' proposal as negotiations continue:

- It should not be a surprise this early in the negotiation game that the Rams and CVC are this far apart. Negotiations 101: the CVC shot low for $124 million improvements while the Rams wanted a stadium overhaul costing more than $700 million. Each side set their own bar, but only time will tell how much each is willing to bend.

- St. Louis mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff Jeff Rainford has said the mayor will advise the CVC to reject the Rams' proposal. He said the CVC is still working numbers, but renovations will in fact cost more than $700 million and would close the dome and Convention Center for multiple years. That could result in a loss of half a billion dollars for the city.

- It is still unknown how much Rams owner Stan Kroenke is willing to pay for upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome. Also, it is unknown if Kroenke will be persistent on his proposal, or if he will show flexibility and was just shooting high to begin negotiations.

- If the two sides head to arbitration beginning June 15, the arbitrator would most likely make a recommendation by 2013, ESPN's Mike Sando points out. However, arbitration will be non-binding for the CVC but will be binding for the Rams if the CVC accepts the arbitrator's proposal. Therefore, no matter how all this plays out, the CVC will have the final say regarding negotiations.

- Mayor Slay has said paying for enhancements to the Edward Jones Dome that require public funding will be subject to prior vote by local residents.

- Turf Show Times correctly pointed out that the Rams' proposal would make the Dome a centerpiece of downtown St. Louis and that it would offer lots of non-NFL benefits that would make it easier to ask for public money if revenue would be brought into the city.

The proposal would put the Dome in the mix for future Super Bowls, and the lower bowl seating improvements would make the Dome able to "accommodate national and international soccer events." It is assumed college bowl games would also be a option.

- The Edward Jones Dome, which opened in 1995, was financed primarily with $256 million in revenue bonds, which is still being paid off with $24 million annually in tax money. The state of Missouri is responsible for $12 million of that, while St. Louis City and County each pay $6 million.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams pay $500,000 each year to lease the Dome ($250,000 in rent and $250,000 in reimbursement for game-day costs). The team profits from advertising, concessions and box office revenue.