News 4 Investigates discovers region lost out on millions by not investing Rams money
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – The St. Louis region scored a lot of green with the Rams settlement, but that cash has some people seeing red.
“There’s no transparency and it’s the public’s money,” stated former Rams season ticket holder Peter Fiore. “Why is it taking so long?”
In 2016 the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles. The next year, St. Louis City, County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) sued the NFL and Kroenke over the move.
In November 2021, they reached a $790 million settlement. After lawyer fees, St. Louis was left with about $513 million dollars.
Financial analyst Juli Niemann believes St. Louis missed out on making millions of dollars because the people in charge of the funds couldn’t agree on what to do with it.
News 4 Investigates did some math, because interest rates are constantly changing it’s hard to pin down an exact number, but it appears St. Louis could have made around $5 million if the money had been invested earlier.
“There’s a high degree of incompetence here,” Niemann said. “You don’t just sit around and stare at the check that somebody just gave you.”
The money from Stan Kroenke was wired over in December 2021. As of mid-October, it totaled $514,977,702, a bump of just over $2 million in about a year. It’s not much considering we’re talking about over a half billion dollars.
The money sat in a trust for five months, making no interest. They waited until the end of April to move it to an account, where it finally started earning interest at a low rate.
“It’s failure to prepare, they knew this money was coming eventually,” Niemann said.
If Niemann could turn back time, she’d invest in a state-backed fund called the Missouri Securities Investment Program. She described the program, which is set up just for cities, counties, and other political subdivisions, as “very safe and secure.”
The fund’s interest rate steadily increased over the past year and is now close to 4%. Based on News 4′s calculations, had the money been in this account from the start it could have made around $5 million, more than double the $2 million earned.
“In a case of private investment, it could have been actionable, someone could have sued us. In this case who knows what can happen, at least some heads should roll at the big cost here,” Niemann said.
They can’t change the past, but the money is now earning significantly more interest. It took until mid-October for St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the RSA to agree to put the money into a stronger investment. That is where it now sits, expected to total around $519 by January.
“The good thing is it is getting invested, so it’s not being wasted,” said David Spence, Vice Chairman of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA).
Spence joined the RSA board in March and was immediately vocal that the money needed to be invested. The problem was that the board wanted to move the cash, but they needed the city and county to agree.
“The wheels move slowly in certain circles,” Spence said.
The city and county won’t talk to News 4 Investigates about why the money wasn’t invested faster. Both declined interviews and declined to provide new comment.
For the most part, the money has been kept a secret.
Last March, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page told News 4, “there’s no rush on that right now, we’re all really busy.” At the time Page made that statement, the money was in a trust, earning no interest.
Things changed recently when the RSA started being more open about where the money stands, but when it comes to splitting it up, that’s happening behind closed doors.
When asked about how the money is being divided, Spence said, “that’s confidential. There are talks but we’re bound by confidentially.” He added, “You have to trust the process, in the meantime, we are getting interest.”
In a process that kicked off with secrecy, some say it’s hard to trust the funds won’t turn into another loss for St. Louis.
Hours before this story aired, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office announced that as of January 2023, St. Louis City would receive $250 million plus an additional $30 million on contingency, St. Louis County would receive $169 million and the RSA would receive $70 million. The full board of the RSA still must approve the deal.
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