City, County leaders respond to NFL Rams settlement agreement

City, county leaders respond to NFL Rams settlement agreement
City, county leaders respond to NFL Rams settlement agreement
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Less than 24 hours since a long-awaited decision on how the NFL Rams settlement money would be divided up between the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, News 4 is hearing directly from Metro leaders.

“I’m relieved, I’m glad that we finally reached a settlement. It took longer than we wanted to, but we’re finally here,” said Reverend Earl E. Nance Jr.

Nance is the Chairman of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Authority (RSA), the owners of the Dome America’s Center.

“We appreciate the public’s patience with this in finally getting this done,” said Nance.

News 4 first reported the news that a tentative settlement agreement had been reached between the city, county and RSA on what portion of the $513 million dollars each entity would receive. Per the agreement, St. Louis City would receive $250 million plus an additional $30 million in contingency funds that must be used to support the convention center’s expansion project. St. Louis County gets $169 million, and the RSA would get $70 million.

While the 11-member RSA board will still need to officially sign off on the agreement when they meet next week, Nance said he is hopeful to put their $70 million share to work right away.

“Of course, we asked for more. We would’ve liked more, but it turned out [to be] 70 million dollars and we will make the best use of it that we can,” said Nance. “The dome that we’re responsible for needs some repairs, need some maintenance, may need a new roof, so we’ll be ready for that. We have to get everything ready for the battle hawks football team coming in, so this money is a big help in helping to get that done.”

However, the tentative agreement came as a surprise to some in the county.

“We woke up this morning to the articles that were published on the dollar amount,” said District 7 County Councilman Mark Harder. “To this point, our county council has been kept in the dark throughout this whole negotiation period, and this is the first time that we’ve actually seen any kind of decision when it comes to this.”

Harder also believes the county was shorted out of a bigger portion of the settlement.

“Numbers have been kicked around that it would be a third to the city, a third to the county and a third to the state,” he said. “On a per capita basis, we came up short. because the county has over a million people, the city has less than 300,000 people.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Tishaura Jones’s office said the tentative agreement is a win for St. Louis City, but they did not detail any initial plans for how their allocation will be used.

“This tentative agreement is a win for St. Louis City and our entire region; we took the NFL to court and held them accountable for the millions of dollars they cost us. While the RSA still has to take a final vote, the City is set to receive the majority of the Rams settlement. As I’ve said many times, St. Louis cannot take a hammer to the political piggy bank. We must invest these resources responsibly to make long-term, transformational change in our communities for future generations. My focus remains on working with the Board of Alderman to allocate American Rescue Plan funding at this time.”

“That lawsuit would’ve never even happened, had not the city board of alderman fought to get this stadium,” said 23rd Ward Alderman Joe Vaccaro.

Vaccaro argues all the money from the city and county should be put towards improving the dome and convention center.

“That’s where it should go. The city taxpayers are going to be paying to make that a bigger, better facility anyway, so that’s less money we would be putting into that, and that money that the taxpayers are using could go into roads and things like that,” said Vaccaro. “Everybody that goes to these things, the concerts, to now the new football team that’s going to be there, when they go to them, they’re going to stay in the county. This is money that goes to them.”

Harder wants to see more transparency moving forward as to how and when the money is used, but he does not think there should be any rush to use it right away.

“I hope we can set up some type of mechanism or screening process, or application process that allows people the chance to come forth with good ideas on how this should be spent,” said Harder “I think this is long-term money and should be long-term money.”

Doug Moore, with the County Executive’s Office, echoed a similar reaction to the news of the settlement agreement:

“We will listen to everyone’s ideas and anticipate that St. Louis County will have community listening sessions. This is an opportunity to invest in the future of generations to come.

“We do not want to rush this process, and there is no need to rush. The money will continue to collect interest while we make sure we have a long-term budget plan for St. Louis County.”