Key considerations after looking through the St. Louis Rams' wish list for an upgraded stadium:
The Rams appear to be making reasonable requests based on their rights to a "first-tier" facility. Sports consultant Marc Ganis said so in a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Yes, the upgrades would be costly. It's possible the price tag could make the project cost-prohibitive. But this was also the Rams' only chance in the process to make their case for a first-tier facility. They knew the stadium authority would probably balk (that has not happened yet). They couldn't very well increase their demands in the future, could they?
The process appears on course for arbitration beginning June 15 unless the stadium authority unexpectedly accepts the Rams' proposal. An arbiter would make a recommendation by 2013, most likely. Arbitration would be binding for the Rams if the stadium authority accepted the arbiter's proposal, a spokeswoman for St. Louis mayor Francis Slay confirmed Monday. In that case, the Rams' lease would extend to 2025. Otherwise, the Rams would go on a year-to-year lease beginning in March 2015, at which point they would be a flight risk.
Now is not the time for Rams fans to panic. The process is going to play out over time. The sides are fighting for leverage on the lease issue. The stadium authority will ultimately determine whether the Rams reach the market in 2015. Even if the Rams do reach that point, there are no guarantees the team will immediately leave town. Jeff Rainford, the mayor's chief of staff, put it this way during a phone interview Monday: "A lot of people are asking what it will take to keep the Rams in St. Louis. We are not at that point. The question now is what will it take to keep the Rams in the dome. If that cannot happen, then you get to the second question."
Looks like we'll have to focus on football instead of stadium issues when it comes to the Rams, at least for now. Back with more on that front in a bit.