Here’s what’s at stake as St. Louis takes the NFL to court over the Rams’ relocation

October 6, 2021 – Media Mention

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, spoke to CNBC about a lawsuit over the Rams' 2016 move from St. Louis to Los Angeles in which an appeal was recently filed by the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams and team owner Stand Kroenke to move the upcoming January 2022 trial out of St. Louis citing "prejudicial effects of extensive pretrial publicity."

The article stated, "St. Louis officials are seeking financial damages they claim they suffered when the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016. The move left St. Louis with debt on the team’s former stadium, which was built with public funds." The article also stated that the court is requiring the National Football League team owners involved to "provide financial documents to asses potential damages." As a result, "sensitive documents about NFL owners' finances could become public during the trial."  

Kishner reflected, "I feel bad for the city of St. Louis," adding, "[i]t’s a very emotionally charged issue – losing your team to another city." He explained that when courts request financial documents during the pretrial period, it comes after officials' "established liability." He said that language in the Rams’ St. Louis lease could be "hard to assert that there is some binding obligation to remain in the city," adding, "[a]nd there was no contractual obligation that would subject the team to damages if they were to move when the lease expired."

The lawsuit alleges multimillion-dollar losses in amusement and ticket tax collections as well as hotel, property, and sales tax revenue for St. Louis. Kishner said, "The city lost a valuable member, and it’s pissed," adding, "And it’s a city that’s looking for its piece of the pie." He anticipated that the further the issue lingers, the more likely that the NFL is risking public sentiment, saying, "They have to manage that and be very aware of it[.]"

Kishner noted that the matter is likely to end in a settlement, explaining, "Most trials settle before you get to the actual decision because there is a lot of time, effort, money, publicity associated with this." The article stated that "St. Louis officials seek not only damages but a piece of the increased valuation associated with the Rams’ relocation revenue losses," a total eclipsing $1 billion. Kishner noted that, "those kinds of settlements almost always remain confidential[.]"

Read the full piece in CNBC here.