The St. Louis Rams and the city Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) will head to arbitration to try to resolve their competing visions for renovations to the Edward Jones Dome. On Thursday, the CVC needed fewer than 30 minutes to vote to go to arbitration, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
According to the team's lease on the facility, the Dome must be considered among the "first tier" of NFL stadiums by 2015. If it is not, the Rams can opt out of their lease, which binds them through 2025. This spring, the CVC presented the Rams with a $124 million plan to spruce up the Dome. The Rams rejected that proposal and countered with their own plan, estimated to cost around $700 million.
The two sides had until June 15 to negotiate a deal before sending the matter to arbitration. With a difference of nearly $600 million, the factions had a considerable gap to bridge, and it was widely expected that the matter would go to arbitration.
A panel of three arbitrators will hear each side's case. The panel can rule in favor of one side or the other, but a more likely outcome would be a reconciled vision for the Dome, meeting each side somewhere between their $124 million and $700 million price points.
The deadline for arbitration is the end of 2012. Following that, the CVC has 60 days to decide whether to accept the arbitrators' plan. If the city bureau accepts it, the Rams would be locked into their lease for the full term. Any plan bridging the gap would likely require more public dollars than now go to the Dome. City officials have said in the past that any increases in public revenue would require public approval.
For more on the Rams and the Dome negotiations, visit Turf Show Times.