The NFL is moving the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles and the tax payers of St. Louis are being stuck with $144 million in debt and maintenance cost for the Edward Jones Dome.
Some of that money will be paid as the stadium is used for concerts, tractor pulls, and other events that move through the city.
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has asked the NFL to help pay off the stadium, but has received no response from the league.
“The fans are being left holding the bag,” Reed said. “I think they should factor that into the total cost of the move.”
The NFL has been shrewd in negotiating with city’s to secure new stadiums for their teams. Under terms of St. Louis’ agreement, taxpayers were covering annual shortfalls as stadium revenues failed to match required payments for the venue.
St. Louis isn’t the first city to be stuck with a substantial bill after sports teams left the area. Other cities have faced hefty bonds, maintenance costs, and even demolition fees after a team is gone.
A team doesn’t even necessarily have to leave a city for a stadium to fall into disrepair. The Detroit Lions left the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan for a new stadium located downtown.
The Silverdome was used sporadically for events until its inflatable roof was deflated and the elements crept in. The stadium is now slated for demolition.
Seattle’s Kingdome bonds were retired only last year, 15 years after the facility was imploded in 2000.
Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium was torn down more than a decade ago and the city still has $160,000 left to pay on the building.
Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis was built in 1995 at a cost of $280 million. The city agreed at the time to a clause that required the 67,000-seat dome to be maintained as a first-tier standard, meaning the facility must be considered among the top quarter of all NFL football facilities.
Since that time, billion dollars stadiums have opened in Dallas and other areas, pushing the stadium out of the top 25th percentile.
Before jumping ship the St. Louis Rams had asked the city to foot a $700 million bill to improve the current stadium, a cost city officials refused to pay.
St. Louis has been paying $6 million for annual debt service and maintenance for the stadium but collected only about $4.2 million in direct revenues from Rams games, according to the Mayor’s office.
The state of Missouri paid $12 million annually but earned $12.4 million in revenues from NFL activities. The county also paid $6 million annually.
All three entities will continue paying their share until the debt is paid off in 2021.