The Rams want us to buy them a new house. Just fixing up its current home—the Edward Jones Dome—won't do. Instead, the St. Louis football franchise expects an extreme makeover, to the tune of $700 million, as it is estimated by a company hired by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) to analyze the team's counter proposal to a the CVC's own plan to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome with a $124 million facelift.
If someone doesn't cough up the $700 mil to redo the Dome, it is feared the team will take its football and go home to Los Angeles, where it came from before it was the St. Louis franchise.
All of this wrangling was set in motion in 1995 when the team negotiated a 30-year lease with the CVC. It was stipulated that the CVC had to keep the Dome in the "first tier" of NFL stadiums in the league or else it could terminate the lease and would be free to move out of St. Louis.
The current Edward Jones Dome was financed by the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state with $256 million in bonds, a 30-year mortgage that ultimately will see the three entities spend $720 million to pay off.
But whether there will be a team playing in St. Louis by that time is a big question as the Rams' vision of first-tier status appears to be out of the current reach of city, county and state budgets. On KWMU's St. Louis On the Air yesterday, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said no, we can't spend any amount of money to retain the team.
The cold reality of the Rams "business" decision to seek a massive renovation to the Dome appears lacking in any civic partnership between the team and the fans that pay to watch its games. The football played in the Dome during the team's 17 years in St. Louis has been alternately great and frustratingly inept. There is a Super Bowl season to savor, and many losing seasons that were endured.
However, does it really matter how well the team plays? Is it important only to have a team?
Today's questions are: How far are taxpayers willing to go to support the Rams? Should the possibility the Rams leaving St. Louis be enough to persuade people to build a new house for the team? In this age of impersonal business dealings, should Rams fans expect any civic loyalty from the team they have supported for 17 years?
Please weigh in with your two cents, or 700 million cents, by commenting below.