With NFL Rams gone, St. Louis still stuck with stadium debt

Wed Feb 3, 2016 12:09pm EST
 
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By Robin Respaut

(Reuters) - The National Football League’s Rams left behind more than bitterness when the team ditched St. Louis for Los Angeles last month - it left a stadium saddled with about $144 million in debt and maintenance costs.

Taxpayers will now shoulder the remaining payments for the Edward Jones Dome with only the help of revenue from tractor pulls, volleyball tournaments, concerts and the like.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has asked the NFL to help pay off the stadium, but so far has gotten no response.

“The fans are being left holding the bag,” Reed said. “I think they should factor that into the total cost of the move."

The leftover debt and maintenance costs are another example of the NFL's negotiating prowess with many cities, sports economists said, and also reflects larger problems with the deal St. Louis struck with the Rams.

Even before the team decided to leave, the city's stadium revenues didn't cover its payments, leaving the city with annual shortfalls.

The league and the Rams did not respond to requests to comment.

Across the country, cities have gotten stuck with substantial costs after sports teams leave or even move across town. Often, local governments must pay bonds, maintenance costs, or demolition fees after a team is gone.   Continued...

 
St Louis Rams imagery is seen on windows at the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis, Missouri in a January 13, 2016 file photo.  REUTERS/Tom Gannam/Files