Attorney general says he will release Rams' dome proposal
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- The Missouri attorney general will release details next week on how the St. Louis Rams want to renovate the Edward Jones Dome despite the team's desire to keep the plan secret.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which runs the dome, and the Rams are in the midst of negotiations aimed at bringing the dome up to top-tier status among the 31 NFL stadiums. Otherwise, the Rams could break their lease and potentially move after the 2014 season.
The CVC presented a plan in February and the Rams presented their counterproposal to the CVC last week. But the counterproposal wasn't made public.
Attorney General Chris Koster said late Monday that his office will release the plans. He said KTVI-TV in St. Louis requested the documents and they will be released next Monday unless a court ruling keeps them private. Koster sent a letter Monday to St. Louis Circuit Judge Bryan Hettenbach outlining plans to release the documents.
CVC director Kathleen Ratcliffe told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the CVC had no plans to challenge the state's release of documents.
CVC spokeswoman Donna Andrews released an email that said, "The CVC is a party to the lease. The state of Missouri is not. Their obligations under the Sunshine Law and the lease may be different than ours. A court, not the CVC, will make that decision."
Messages left with the Rams were not returned.
Several media outlets have made open records requests for the Rams' proposal, citing the fact that the dome was built with taxpayer funds from St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri. The CVC contends the documents are not subject to Missouri's open records law and that it cannot legally make public any documents that the Rams consider to be confidential.
The dome opened in 1995, the year the Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles. The city, county and state share in the $24 million annual payment toward the $720 million construction debt.
The original 30-year lease allowed for periodic evaluations of the dome's ranking among all NFL stadiums. The next evaluation marker is 2014. The lease deal requires that the dome be among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums. There is concern that St. Louis may lose the team, and team owner Stan Kroenke has been non-committal about the team's future.
The CVC announced a $124 million dome improvement plan in February that would have required the Rams to foot 52 percent of the tab. Taxpayers in the city and county would have been asked to agree to pay for the rest -- roughly $60 million. That plan called for a massive new scoreboard, more club seating, better lighting and even a "Geek Suite" area for electronic buffs and fantasy football players.
The Rams offered no details on why the plan was rejected.
The two sides now have until June 15 to try and reach an agreement. Otherwise, arbitration begins. The arbitration process could last through the end of the year.