St. Louis said that it expected to lose tens of millions of dollars each year, after the N.F.L. allegedly went back on a deal and let the Rams move to California.
The N.F.L. has agreed to pay the city and county of St. Louis an estimated $790 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the league broke its own contract by relocating the Rams to Los Angeles in 2016.
According to The New York Times, an N.F.L. spokesperson confirmed that a settlement had been reached but declined to comment on the amount.
The Times recounts how the plaintiffs—a group comprising the City of St. Louis, the county, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority—accused the Rams and its owner, along with the N.F.L., of demanding that St. Louis construct a new stadium to keep the franchise.
While St. Louis spent upwards of $17 million designing and planning a new football arena, the N.F.L. abruptly exited negotiations.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Rams held a vote in which they decided to move the team to California.
“The Rams and the N.F.L. knew that Plaintiffs were spending vast amounts of time and money to develop a new stadium complex financing plan and encouraged Plaintiffs’ commitments through misrepresentations regarding the process and the Rams’ intent,” attorneys for the plaintiff group wrote in their lawsuit.
The complaint further alleged that, since the Rams have left town, the city has lost $3.5 million in annual amusement and ticket tax revenue, $7.5 million in property tax, and $1.4 million in sales tax revenue—on top of its earnings from related sectors, such as the hospitality industry.
While the N.F.L. initially denied any wrongdoing, it was forced to capitulate earlier this week, and is expected to pay $790 million to settle St. Louis’s claims.
The Rams’ billionaire owner, Stanley Kroenke, will likely have to reimburse the N.F.L. for most—if not all—of the settlement.
The New York Times notes that Kroenke had already paid the N.F.L. about $550 million for the rights to move the Rams to California, and has invested upwards of $5 billion to build the team’s new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
The Inglewood stadium, adds the Times, will be shared with the Los Angeles Chargers and is slated to host the upcoming Super Bowl in February.
Garrett Broshuis, a St. Louis-based attorney and adjunct law professor at St. Louis University, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the settlement may have lasting repercussions for the way the N.F.L. chooses to do business.
“This entire lawsuit is a wake-up call to the N.F.L.,” Broshuis said. “This resulted in a substantial sum of money. And a payment like this really hits home. That’s where the owners actually feel things, when it hits their wallet.”