Settlement of $ 790 million in a lawsuit over the departure of Ramez St. Louis
St. Louis – NFL owner Stan Kroenke will pay the Rams $790 million to settle a lawsuit brought by St. Louis interests over the team’s transfer to Los Angeles, according to a joint statement from the city and county of St. Louis on Wednesday.
Details of the settlement were not released, and it was not immediately clear how much Kroenke would pay and how much the owners of the league’s other 31 teams would cover.
“This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our district, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding uncertainty about the trial and appeals process,” said a statement from St. Louis Mayor Techora Jones and St. Louis County Executive Page.
The statement said St. Louis area officials have yet to determine how the settlement funds will be used.
An NFL spokesperson said, in a brief statement, that the league and St. Louis interests “were able to fully resolve the dispute.”
The settlement, which was mediated, ends a 4-and-a-half-year-old lawsuit filed in the wake of the Rams’ 2016 departure. Kroenke and the NFL failed to bid to dismiss the lawsuit or at least move it out of St. Louis, and the courts were sympathetic to the efforts of the St. Louis side to reveal the information Team Owners Finance – Provisions that precipitated payment for a settlement.
The case was due to go to trial on January 10. The lawsuit has claimed more than $1 billion. It alleged that the team’s move cost the St. Louis area millions of dollars in entertainment revenue, tickets and profit tax.
Then-owner Georgia Frontier moved the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995 to her hometown of St. Louis, where they stayed for 21 seasons before being brought back by Kroenke.
Kroenke, a Missouri real estate developer married to the heir to a Walmart fortune, became a minority owner when the team first came to St. Louis. Frontier passed away in 2008 and left the team to her children, who sold the rams to Kroenke in 2010.
It wasn’t long after that that the Rams began paying hundreds of millions of dollars to improve a downtown stadium built with taxpayer money in the early 1990s to lure an NFL team.
St. Louis interests initially suggested a more modest upgrade, then eventually proposed a new $1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River that would be jointly funded by taxpayers, the team and the NFL. The league and team declined.
Instead, Kroenke purchased land in Englewood, California. SoFi Stadium opened in September 2020 and is now the home of both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, who moved from San Diego in 2017.
Besides losing the NFL team, St. Louis residents were angered by Kroenke’s 29-page transfer application before the owners’ meeting in January 2016 where the move was approved. The document was critical of St. Louis for its low population, questioned the area’s economic future and called into question whether it could support the baseball Cardinals and hockey blues as well as the NFL franchise.
The 2017 lawsuit filed on behalf of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Athletic and Convention Authority said Kroenke and other team and league officials learned early in 2013 that the Rams were planning to move but lied in denial that he-she. The lawsuit said the university ignored its own transfer guidelines in allowing relocation.
The NFL, Rams and Kroenke said the guidelines are not ironclad and the league has the right to agree to a move that is clearly in the best interest of the NFL and the owners of its 32 teams.
Peter Joy, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said the case should serve as a lesson for the owners and the union to consider if other team transfers are considered.
“Stay with the rules,” Joy said. “Step into the contract. Don’t be a scammer.”
The settlement follows a string of losses in court for Kroenke and the NFL, America’s most popular and most lucrative sports league.
Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGrara ruled in July that there was sufficient evidence that Kroenke and others were involved in the fraud, so he ordered the NFL owners to release the financial records. The purpose was to allow the jury to consider punitive damages if Kroenke and the NFL lost the lawsuit.
Lawyers for NFL officials called the records’ request an “invader,” but the Missouri Supreme Court in September upheld the lower court’s order.
The NFL and Kroenke also sought to move the trial out of St. Louis, citing “undue influence” on potential jurors. But McGra denied the request in August, a decision later upheld by a Missouri appeals court.
Kroenke and the NFL also unsuccessfully sought to have the case heard in arbitration rather than in court.
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