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Arbitrators Rule In Rams Favor In Dome Negotiations

Rams have won a clear victory in the negotiations over the Edward Jones Dome. the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

A panel of three arbitrators sided with the team today, saying the Rams’ plan for a dramatic renovation of the Dome — estimated to cost at least $700 million — is the only way to make the building a “first tier” football facility.

The Convention and Visitors Commission, which runs the Dome, now has 30 days to decide if it will try to enact the Rams’ plan. But one of its lead attorneys, Greg Smith, said this afternoon that is “unlikely.”

If the CVC indeed rejects the plan, the Rams’ lease at the Dome will go on a year-to-year basis starting in March 2015.

The talks between local leaders and the Rams are now expected to shift away from the Dome — and towards the idea of building a new stadium, on a new site.

Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said today’s decision is only one step “in the journey through the whole process.”

“We now have clarity,” Rainford said. “The Rams will hopefully let everyone know what they really want, and we’ll see what we can do to help.”

The three arbitrators, from the American Arbitration Association, were: retired Colorado judge Federico C. Alvarez, from Denver; former Iowa judge David Blair, from Sioux City; and labor attorney Sinclair Kossoff, from Chicago.

They were brought in to decide whether the CVC’s proposal, or that of the Rams, would propel the Dome into “first tier” status, or top 25 percent of NFL stadiums, in several different categories. The Rams’ lease at the Dome mandates that the building be a “first tier” facility by 2015.

The CVC had proposed a $124 million plan, with the team picking up about half the tab. The proposal called for, among other features, a new glass addition, outdoor terraces, a new center-hung scoreboard, new club seats, renovated suites and new lounges.

The Rams countered with a much more expansive renovation that city leaders estimated would cost at least $700 million. The Rams’ plan called for tearing down half the Dome, extending its footprint across Broadway and adding a large glass wall, similar to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It also called for a playing-field-sized sliding roof, reconfigured seating, two end-zone “party platforms” and new, larger entrances.

The Rams released a statement tonight saying they were “pleased” with the arbitrators’ decision and that it showed “significant improvements are required to put the Edward Jones Dome on equal standing with most National Football League stadiums and to enhance the fan experience.”

photo credit: Thomas Gehrke via photopin cc

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