Slighted St. Louis wants to stick it to the NFL

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2016 file photo, Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, right and head coach Jeff Fisher, center, watch as quarterback Jared Goff warms up before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Los Angeles. Fifteen months after the NFL's Rams departed for Los Angeles, the city of St. Louis filed suit Wednesday, April 12, 2017, alleging the league violated its own relocation guidelines and enriched itself at the expense of the place it left behind. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill File)

The city of St. Louis sued the NFL, alleging the league violated its relocation rules to enrich itself. Who do you side with: St. Louis or the NFL?

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The story:

The city of St. Louis filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the National Football League over the Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles, alleging the league violated its own relocation guidelines and enriched itself at the expense of the community it left behind. The move comes 15 months after the team departed. St. Louis is joined in the lawsuit by St. Louis County and the region’s sports authority. The lawsuit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court names the NFL, all 32 teams and their owners, and seeks unspecified but “extensive” damages and restitution.

What does the NFL think?:

The NFL says there is “no legitimate basis” for the lawsuit. A spokesman for the league, Brian McCarthy, said it worked diligently with local and state officials in a process he calls “honest and fair.”

The suit claims:

The suit claims that it wasn’t long afterward that Kroenke began plotting a move, despite public comments from him and team executive Kevin Demoff that the Rams hoped to remain in St. Louis for the long term. “In the years leading up to the Rams relocation request, Rams officials decided to move the team and confidentially determined that they would be interested in exploiting any opportunity to do so,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit notes that since St. Louis officials weren’t aware a move was essentially a done deal, they spent millions developing plans for a new riverfront stadium project aimed at retaining the Rams. “The Rams never intended to engage in good faith negotiations with St. Louis,” the lawsuit says.

The 52 page suit.

The money St. Louis is losing:

According to the complaint, because of the Rams move to Los Angeles, St. Louis lost an estimated $1.85 – $3.5 million each year in amusement and ticket tax collections, approximately $7.5 million in property tax, $1.4 million in sales tax and millions in earnings taxes. The suit also claims the city lost more than $100 million in net proceeds because of the move as well as hotel and property tax revenue and sales tax revenue. The failure to approve a new stadium in St. Louis, the suit says, cost around 2,750 construction jobs and more than 600 jobs per year. It also says the loss of annual state revenue will be $15 million.

On the relocation policy:

Apart from pointing out alleged inconsistencies in the team’s commitment to St. Louis and intended move to Los Angeles, the plaintiffs make this strong claim about the league’s rules regarding franchise relocation: “[T]he Relocation Policy and relocation process are a sham meant to disguise the avarice and anticompetitive nature of the entire proceeding. The Relocation Policy was adopted to avoid antitrust liability by circumscribing the members’ subjective decision-making, but, in reality, the Policy is ignored whenever convenient to pursue a greater profit.”

The NFL’s relocation rules.

St. Louis execs once said:

Included is part of a 2010 Post-Dispatch interview with Kroenke in which he said: “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis. I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. … People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted.” Another example came in 2014 from Rams executive Kevin Demoff after Kroenke bought land in Inglewood, Calif., that became part of the eventual site of the LA Rams’ proposed stadium: “I promise you, Stan is looking at lots of pieces of land around the world right now and none of them are for football stadiums.”

The Rams and the NFL got rich:

The relocation boosted the value of the Rams by nearly $700 million, according to a Forbes analysis cited by the lawsuit, which claimed that “increase in value was at the expense of Plaintiffs.” In addition, given that the Rams paid the league a $550 relocation fee, “the move to Los Angeles enriched the NFL improperly.”

What do you think? Who do you side with: St. Louis or the NFL?

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