Edward Jones Dome goes to Arbitration
A disagreement about how to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome to make it a more premier National Football League stadium ended up in arbitration. The existing lease, stretching back more than 15 years, held that the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission would end up in arbitration as the result of any disputes. The losing party would be responsible for paying the legal fees of the other party.
The convention center is responsible for operation of the dome itself, in which the Rams have played since 1995. The goal of the initial dome construction was to attract an NFL team to the area, and the convention center was successful when the Rams relocated from Anaheim, California. The lease agreement was put into place that year, with a 30-year term attached to it.
It was an exception in that lease agreement that led to the initial dispute. The Rams were provided an “out” if the dome was not determined to rank in the top quarter of NFL stadiums, and the convention center and Rams management were torn about the best way to achieve that goal. After going through the arbitration process, it was determined that the more comprehensive and extensive plan suggested by the Rams was more appropriate. The convention center management, however, does have some options. If they don’t start the process of implementing the plan support in arbitration, the Rams lease will go to a year-to-year option in March 2015. St. Louis is still managing the debt from the initial dome build: the upfront cost was more than $300 million, with a total of $720 million in repayment when the 30-year bonds are up.
When the arbitrators determined that the St. Louis Rams were the prevailing party, the group requested reimbursement for more than $3 million in legal fees. The Convention and Visitors Center countered, requesting that the maximum reimbursement be limited to $787,398.