It has been a little over a year since the Rams returned to Los Angeles. But now, nearly 15 months later the city of St. Louis is suing the league, claiming it violated relocation guidelines.
According to an ESPN report, the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are filing suit against the NFL and its 32 teams and owners, alleging the Rams were unjustly enriched.
“The Rams, the NFL, through its member teams, and the owners, have violated the obligations and standards governing team relocations by seeking and approving the relocation of the St. Louis Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, California, despite the fact that the Rams failed to satisfy the obligations imposed by the League’s relocation rules and the fact that relocation was not supported by the required statement of reasons or the adopted relocation standards. In so doing, Defendants have breached their contractual duties owed to Plaintiffs,” the suit stated.
The Rams had called the city of Los Angeles home for 48 seasons starting in 1946, playing in both the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Angel Stadium (then Anaheim Stadium) during that period. As attendance numbers diminished during the early 1990s, Anaheim Stadium became the blame. Because Orange County had been experiencing an economic downturn during that period, securing a new stadium in the region proved to be impossible.
It was at this time that then owner Georgia Frontiere elected to move the team to St. Louis. However, the move would be rejected by then Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the other league owners. It wasn’t until Frontiere threatened legal action that the league allowed the move.
“The desire to have peace and not be at war was a big factor,” Tagliabue said, in a report written by T.J. Simers for the Los Angeles Times.
After moving to St. Louis, the Rams would play four games at Busch Memorial Stadium before moving to the newly constructed Edward Jones Dome (Then Trans World Dome). Following Frontiere’s death after the 2007 season, ownership was passed to her son Dale Rosenbloom and daughter Lucia Rodriguez. When Rosenbloom and Rodriguez offered their majority ownership stake for sale, Stan Kroenke, a minority owner at the time, would utilize his right of first refusal to acquire the remaining portion of the franchise.
The suit alleges that Kroenke never acted in good faith with the city of St. Louis, claiming the move was essentially a done deal by the time he took over as controlling owner.
“The Rams never intended to engage in good faith negotiations with St. Louis. In contrast to his prior statements, Mr. Demoff admitted in a January 2016 interview in Los Angeles that he “always dreamed that he could be part of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.” He also admitted that Mr. Kroenke, who inspected the California property in the summer of 2013, called him at that time and told him that the location was “an unbelievable site” for a football stadium. Mr. Demoff stated that this call from Mr. Kroenke was one of the ‘moments in your life you never forget,'” the plaintiffs contend.
In addition, the plaintiffs argue that they spent millions of dollars in new stadium proposals, all under the belief that the Rams would attempt to stay in St. Louis.
According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of communications, stated that the move to Los Angeles was done fairly.
“There is no legitimate basis for this litigation.”
“While we understand the disappointment of the St. Louis fans and the community, we worked diligently with local and state officials in a process that was honest and fair at all times,” McCarthy said.
When asked about the lawsuit, the Rams would not offer comment, stating that they do not discuss pending litigation.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]