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July 6, 2013

Edward Jones Dome won't get $700M in upgrades

ST. LOUIS — The organization that runs the Edward Jones Dome has made it official: The facility will not get a publicly funded $700 million upgrade that the St. Louis Rams requested, possibly leaving the city without an NFL team for the second time in almost 30 years.

St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission President Kathleen Ratcliffe informed the Rams of the decision in a letter dated Tuesday.

The outcome was no surprise. After arbitrators ruled in favor of the Rams’ plan over a much more modest CVC proposal, the CVC said in February it was unlikely to implement the plan.

The Rams can now break their lease with the dome after the 2014 season. The team has been noncommittal about its plans, and its offices were closed Friday for the long Fourth of July holiday. A spokesman was unreachable. The former St. Louis Cardinals left for Arizona in 1987.

In a letter to Rams’ Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, Ratcliffe said the CVC “is not in a position to commit to the St. Louis Rams LLC regarding the financing” of improvements to the 18-year-old dome.

“We remain committed to working with you as set forth in the terms of our Lease,” she wrote.

But Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said Friday that the Rams have been unwilling to engage in further negotiations. Rainford said Gov. Jay Nixon is personally working on the situation and that Nixon, city officials and leaders of the organizations that own and operate the dome agreed that the Rams’ plan was a “non-starter.”

“Everybody’s on the same page,” Rainford said. “It was a no-brainer. There was nobody in St. Louis who thought that the Rams proposal was a good idea, other than the Rams.”

Messages seeking comment from a Nixon spokesman were not immediately returned.

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