Stadium Task Force files response to Kroenke, says St. Louis 'un - KMOV.com

Stadium Task Force files response to Kroenke, says St. Louis 'unfairly attacked'

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Days after the Rams made their relocation application public, residents in St. Louis are still fuming about what they see as a litany of insulting falsehoods about the city and its sports climate contained in the application.

Thursday, the St. Louis Stadium Task Force filed a response to the NFL, rebutting many of the points in Stan Kroenke’s application. The five-page document takes issue with everything from Kroenke’s claim of financial inviability in the stadium deal to the proclamations of St. Louis being unwilling to support the franchise due to the presence of the Blues and the Cardinals.

They also say the Rams have failed to negotiate in good faith in the stadium deal and have actively contributed to the problems they attributed to the city. The whole document is worth a read, but here are some highlights:

On the Fans

The task force vehemently defends the fan base, suggesting the Rams’ claims of low attendance and sub par support ignore the fact the franchise has been underwhelming on the field and has failed to engage the community.

“In their Statement of Reasons, the Rams seem befuddled by low attendance despite all of their claimed “investments and engagements,” perhaps overlooking the chronic lack of on-field success over the past decade.”

“The Rams franchise has produced only four winning seasons since coming to St. Louis in 1995, the most recent of which was in 2003."

“With the conclusion of the 2015 season, the Rams have now posted nine consecutive losing seasons, the longest streak in the NFL. Its current string of 12 consecutive non-winning seasons is second in the League.”

Fun fact: four of those nine seasons featured three or less wins. They went 60-101-1 in those nine seasons.

But, according to the task force, fans still showed support:

“During the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Rams compiled six total wins. Yet, on average, 59,837 fans (equivalent to 89% capacity) attended the Edward Jones Dome each game during that span. In 2007, the Rams still filled the Dome to over 95% capacity, despite the team only winning three games.”

According to numbers cited in the document, the largest contributing factor in season ticket sales wavering came from an uncertainty about the team’s future and a desire to see a long-term commitment to the city. Also, a vast majority of respondents reportedly said they would support the stadium deal and buy tickets for the new open-air stadium.

This section concludes with a reminder of the lax attendance in Los Angeles, pointing to a greater degree of support in St. Louis than the Rams enjoyed on the West Coast.

“The St. Louis Rams have won only 50 games in the last 10 years, with zero winning seasons. The Los Angeles Rams won 71 games during their final 10 seasons in Los Angeles, with four winning seasons. Yet, football fans in St. Louis attended games in greater numbers than Los Angeles fans during those respective time periods, despite St. Louis having a smaller economic market and a much smaller population (metro, city, county, or otherwise).”

On the Finances

The task force response document also cites what they believe to be glaring financial inaccuracies in Kroenke’s application. For one, they believe Kroenke’s calculations on rent increases are, at best, exaggerated. At worst, they are fabricated.

“The Rams claim the rent and operating structure are 20 times what they pay now. It is not clear what figures they are comparing and what they mean by 'operating structure.' Current direct rent is $250,000 (not including certain revenue sharing items) – 20 times current rent would be $5.0 million. The current rent proposal is $1.5 million in year one, and is less than the most recent deals for both the Falcons and Vikings.”

They bristle at the notion that the Rams would have negative cash flow under the new agreement, suggesting Kroenke misrepresented revenue numbers in order to help his argument (emphasis ours).

“We have no idea how the Rams estimated a negative cash flow of $7.5 million. Using conservative revenue, expense, and debt service assumptions based upon input from a variety of sources, including the team, League, and industry experts, we calculate strong profitability in every year at the new stadium. We can only assume that the Rams are vastly haircutting revenue projections in St. Louis to make a case for relocation to the League, but this is misleading and unfair to St. Louis. We are happy to go through our analysis line by line and look forward to an opportunity to do so with the team. We firmly believe that a strong NFL owner could far exceed the revenues we estimate could be generated in the new stadium.”

As for previous financial contributions from the region, the task force has this to say:

“The City of St. Louis and State of Missouri will have contributed over $800 million over the past 20 years in attracting and retaining an NFL team including the proposed stadium deal – the highest amount of any NFL community during that time.”

Some believe the release of the Rams’ application and resulting blowback was part of a larger plan by Kroenke to demonstrate an untenable relationship between the franchise and the city. After all, how could the NFL expect Kroenke to successfully run a team in a city he hates and which hates him back? But the task force seems aware of this, declaring despite the myriad deceptions and half-truths in Kroenke’s application, they are willing forgive and forget.

“We want to assure the NFL of this: St. Louis can, and will, work with Stan Kroenke. No irreparable harm has been done to our relationship or the potential to forge a true partnership that will serve the NFL, the Rams and St. Louis for decades to come.”

Response to Rams Relocation Application - RSA and Task Force

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