For some time now, the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission have been at odds over the state of the Edward Jones Dome. It's obvious that the dome has turned into one of the less attractive stadiums in the league despite having more than a few major upgrades in both 2009 and 2010.
Before the start of the 2009 season, both scoreboards in the end zones were replaced with LED video displays and LED fascia boards were put around the bowl of the dome. All of the new video boards were high-definition units and in total it cost $30 million at completion.
In addition to the technological additions, the organization also added new premium areas throughout the stadium. The two areas included the Bud Light Party Zone and the Clarkson Jewelers Club. Only one performance-based upgrade took place as part of the renovations.
In 2010, the field received a new permanent turf surface. Previously, St. Louis used a brand by the name of FieldTurf—the switch meant the Rams were now using a turf by the name of GameDay 3D Synthetic Turf System, which was made by the AstroTurf company.
All of these upgrades have improved a declining facility, but was it enough to make the dome attractive again? The simple answer to that question is no, it hasn't been enough. According to the arbitrators and the lease the Rams have with the CVC, the Edward Jones Dome is required to carry "top-tier" status.
It's no secret that the "top-tier" status is a long way off. According to the Associated Press, the Rams believe it would take $700 million to $800 million to get into the top-tier of NFL stadiums. As of Feb. 4, the CVC said they were willing to put up $124 million for renovations.
Nothing like being $676 million apart. For the money it would cost to renovate the dome many feel a new stadium would be more feasible. And to be honest, the people saying that have a very good point. The going rate for a new stadium today hovers around the $1 billion range.
It's possible to spend less than a billion dollars, but it would be wise of St. Louis to go all out if it did get a new stadium. The last thing the city wants is to run into this same dilemma down the road. If it goes all out now and doesn't hold back, the stadium will last that much longer.
Yet there's no guarantee the city of St. Louis taxpayers want to foot the bill for a new stadium again. Currently, they are still paying for the Edward Jones Dome at a rate of $6 million a year on a 30-year bond that was issued before the venue opened in 1995.
So if the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County doesn't want to foot the bill, who will? Based on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams future could lie in either Fenton or Maryland Heights. If the stadium were to go up in Fenton, it would be placed in the former location of the Chrysler plant.
If it goes up in Maryland Heights, it would be close to Interstate 70, an area that is also close to where the Rams have their offices and practice facility. Both spots are logical destinations, but we won't know more until the CVC gives an answer to the organization on their $700 million to $800 million proposal.
Obviously, the likely answer to the Rams' proposal will be no, but as of now there is no timetable as to when an answer will come down from the commission. The waiting game begins, but if you're the Rams, you win no matter what.
In accordance to the lease agreement, you have to have a "top-tier" stadium, so you either get the appropriate upgrades or you get a brand new stadium. The absolute last resort would be moving the team out of state, but all indications prove all parties involved want them in St. Louis.
Moreover, the city has already lost one football team, it can't afford to lose another. If it did, it would never ever get another one back.
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