Rainford cautioned against undue hand-wringing about the potential of losing the team, saying it’s way too early for speculation. Even when the lease expires, the Rams can continue playing at the dome on a year-to-year lease.
“The Rams are going to have to figure out what they want, and the taxpayers of the region and the state will consider what they’re willing to pay,” Rainford said.
Taxpayers are already footing the bill for the dome. Repayment for the 30-year bonds that financed it will total $720 million. The state of Missouri pays $12 million annually toward that debt; the city and St. Louis County pay $6 million each.
The unique 30-year lease with the Rams requires that the dome, which opened the year the Rams arrived from Los Angeles in 1995, remain among the top quarter of all NFL stadiums. To do that, the CVC last year proposed a new glass addition, outdoor terraces and a huge new scoreboard. The organization wanted the Rams to pay half the total price tag of under $200 million.
The Rams countered with a far more elaborate plan that included a sliding roof, reconfigured seating and other amenities. The Rams didn’t estimate the cost, but city officials said it would be at least $700 million.
With the sides so far apart, there is speculation the team might build a new stadium, perhaps in St. Louis County. It wasn’t clear if any negotiations have begun over that idea or how it would be funded.