- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - The public board of the Rams’ stadium has filed a lawsuit to block the former St. Louis NFL team from purchasing its practice facility in Earth City.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1SlxMdz ) reports that the authority governing the Edward Jones Dome filed the suit Thursday.

A clause in the lease allowing the Rams to go to Los Angeles gives the team the option to buy Rams Park for only $1 after the dome’s 29th anniversary in 2024. The lease says the option would survive termination of the lease for any reason.

The authority argues that the option survives a termination, but not expiration. It says the Rams’ departure doesn’t terminate the lease.

Jim Shrewsbury, president of the authority board, said he wasn’t emotional over the issue.

“It’s a dispute over the terms of the lease,” he said. “They believe they have an option. We do not believe that option is enforceable.”

The authority wants to sell the 27-acre park, which was once appraised by the county for $19 million. But it says it can’t do so if the Rams have this option.

“The (dome authority) owns the training facility, which is a valuable asset,” said the authority’s attorney, Chris Bauman, of Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch in the suit. “We have a responsibility to maximize the value of that. And to do that, we need certainty concerning this invalid option.”

In Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s January application to move the team to Los Angeles, he criticized the region, saying that St. Louis’ economic growth and population is so sluggish that it can’t support three professional sports teams. Now leaders wonder if the Rams really want to buy the land, as the suit says they have indicated they do.

“I think it would be bad form and in bad character,” said Dave Peacock, co-chairman of the effort to build the riverfront football stadium, along with attorney Bob Blitz. “Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it right.”

It isn’t clear if Kroenke has been asked to give up the option. The Rams’ chief operating officer, Kevin Demoff, declined the newspaper’s request for comment.

The proceeds could be reused to refill the authority’s bank accounts after efforts to plan a new stadium and keep the team in St. Louis totaled more than $16 million. The authority has previously said that it doesn’t have enough money to upkeep the facility in the future.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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