The Rams and the NFL have agreed to pay approximately $800 million to settle the lawsuit over the team’s departure from St.
The settlement enables Rams owner Stan Kroenke to avoid the spectacle of taking a witness stand at the St. Louis trial next month, just before the Super Bowl at Kroenke’s Showcase Stadium in Inglewood. The settlement also dismisses Kroenke’s threat to sue the NFL and its fellow owners if they do not agree to share in settlement costs with him.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who first reported the settlementsaid the figure was $790 million. The Times confirmed the deal with a party familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly, put the figure in the “range of $800 million.” The Post-Dispatch reported that the agreement did not include an expansion team for St. Louis and said an announcement was expected later on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear how much would be settled by Kroenke and how much would be paid by the league and other owners.
The lawsuit, filed in 2017, alleged that the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles violated the NFL’s relocation policy, which requires the team and the league to make every reasonable effort to keep the team in St. Louis.
The Rams argued that, when St. Louis refused to make $700 million to improve the team’s stadium there, it triggered a lease provision that enabled the team to terminate the lease and leave the city. St. Louis argued that terminated the lease but did not free the Rams from negotiating with the city thereafter, and the city spent millions on proposals for a new stadium, while the Rams had already decided to move to LA. did, even team and league officials said otherwise.
The NFL asked the St. Louis Circuit Court to dismiss the lawsuit, order private arbitration, and transfer any lawsuits out of St. Louis. The court denied all three requests; The decision stood on appeal.
St. Louis asked to be awarded the $550 million that the Rams paid to the NFL as a transfer fee, as well as an increase in franchise value since the move.
Forbes estimated the Rams’ franchise value at $1.45 billion in 2016, just before the Rams were relocated, and $4.8 billion in 2021.
With increased tax revenues, St. Louis suffered when the Rams moved, independent of any punitive damages, in damages that could have been upwards of $4 billion.
The NFL resigned to lose in front of a hometown jury, but believed it could succeed on appeal, at least in significantly reducing losses. The NFL’s risk was now waning; The city risked losing afterwards.
Before NFL owners approved the Rams’ move, Kroenke signed an indemnity agreement that obliged him to pay “costs, including legal fees, and other litigation expenses” in order to defend any challengers. To be.
Kroenke had informed his fellow owners that he did not believe that the legal “costs” covered under the indemnity extend to damages, and he asked them to share in the costs of a settlement.
The indemnity settlement gives NFL commissioner Roger Goodell the final say on who owes what. However, Kroenke could sue the NFL if Goodell tried to force him to pay damages, should the jury find that he violated a transfer policy with which the league said he had complied. . That could set up another lawsuit the NFL wanted to avoid: Kroenke versus his fellow owners.