Area leaders won’t comment on status of $513M in Rams settlement money

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - The Rams lawsuit settlement money has quickly become one of St. Louis’ best kept secrets.

News 4 Investigates learned select city, county and Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) leaders met to negotiate how to split the $513 million in settlement funds. That meeting was not made public. News 4 Investigates found out during the meeting the city fought for the majority share and all parties involved walked away without a final agreement.

“They should not be discussing city money behind closed doors,” said St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus.

Tyus was not invited to the recent meeting and claims the city’s Board of Aldermen has been kept in the dark.

She is the only member of the city Board who was there when they first inked the deal to build the Dome more than two decades ago.

The Dome was home to the Rams until the team relocated to Los Angeles in 2016.

In 2017 the city, county and RSA sued over the Rams’ relocation. Stan Kroenke and the NFL opted to avoid going to trial and settled in November 2021 for $790 million. After lawyer fees, St. Louis was left with around $513 million.

Since the settlement was reached, all talk about the money has been kept behind closed doors. The people involved include St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, and RSA leaders.

Last session Tyus introduced a resolution to start an investigation into how the money is being handled. Now, she says she’s getting ready to take another step.

“If we have to, I will ask for it to be heard during the time we’re out of session because we have a right to know what’s going on,” Tyus said.

For months News 4 Investigates has been trying to get answers from Jones, Page, and RSA leaders.

Jones turned down all interview requests. A spokesman for her office sent the following statement Thursday:

“While we won’t comment on ongoing negotiations, Mayor Jones remains committed that any funds the City procures through this historic agreement must be invested responsibly with an eye towards our children and grandchildren - not the next election cycle. We cannot take a hammer to the political piggy bank, or our future generations will end up paying the price.”

Spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones

A spokesman for the county sent a statement claiming there is a mediation agreement between the three groups that requires confidentiality.

“A mediation agreement prevents the three parties from talking about the ongoing negotiations, and we will continue to honor that. Once the funds are divided, we look forward to seeking input from residents on how best to use these funds in St. Louis County.”

Spokesman for St. Louis County government

That mediation agreement would be a matter of public record.

News 4 Investigates has been requesting that specific record for months but no one will release it.

During the RSA’s board meeting in June, they tabled a resolution calling for the settlement to be handled in an “open and transparent manner.”

The resolution was introduced by two members, Stephen Nance and Joseph Blanner. Blanner told News 4 he plans to reintroduce the resolution at the next board meeting.

“We have a duty to act in the public’s interest and steward those funds wisely,” Blanner said. “The purpose of the resolution was to encourage transparency in both the discussions between the RSA, and the city, and the county, and also encourage transparency in the ultimate use of the funds.”

Blanner wouldn’t comment on the recent meeting but said he was not involved.

Meanwhile, experts on Missouri’s Sunshine Law, which provides public access to records and meetings, say the settlement should be more transparent.

“More than half a billion dollars, that’s an extraordinary amount of money and the public definitely has a significant interest in understanding how it’s being divided and why it’s being divided the way that it is,” said Dave Roland, director of litigation for Freedom Center of Missouri. “Once the deal is done, there’s very little that can be done to unwind it.”

Currently, the money is sitting in a trust collecting 1 percent interest. The RSA approved a plan to move the funds to an account that nets 3 percent interest, which would add to tens of millions of dollars. News 4 Investigates learned the county and city still haven’t given the okay to that plan.