ST. LOUIS - With news of Stan Kroenke's holding company purchasing 60 acres of land near Los Angeles, speculation has been growing about whether this is a negotiating ploy or a strategic move to return the team to California.
We can't answer that question but we can get some hard numbers on just how much tax payers have spent on the St. Louis Rams. Since 1992, Tax payers in Missouri, St. Louis County, and the city of St. Louis have doled out $528 million. By the time the bonds are paid off that number will jump another $200 million.
The Rams don't pay electricity or sewer bills, but they do pay $500,000 a year to lease the Edward Jones Dome.
"Stan Kroenke is a multi-billionaire. He's been very good at twisting money from the public in the past….in fact twisting the public's arm for subsidies is something most NFL owners do really well," said author Gregg Easterbrook, who penned "The King of Sports, Football's Impact on America."
He also believes public money invested in football stadiums not only doesn't return what is predicted he said the entire concept is smoke and mirrors.
"St. Louis is one of the NFL cities where public subsidies actually are greater than the cost of the stadium. So the Kroenkes' turn a profit just on their public subsidies before they sell any ticket or receive their TV revenue, which is of course the main thing," said Easterbrook.
Plenty of fans and business leaders in St. Louis believe the focus should be on the Rams staying in St. Louis.
Jim Sansone, principal of the Sansone Group is a commercial real-estate developer. He said there are great sites for a new stadium north of the current stadium in downtown St. Louis. He also likes locations out west on 141 and to the south at the old Chrysler Plant.
"An NFL team brings vitality to a city, it brings interest, it brings shoppers, it brings people to restaurants. It is very important to a city and people locating here especially young people which are the future of any city," said Sansone.
In terms of whether the tax payers have gotten a return on their half billion dollar investment so far? It is not possible to give you raw numbers. Neither the Convention and Visitors Commission which owns the Dome, The Sports Authority, nor St. Louis Regional Chamber have done economic impact studies on the Rams.
Some people think Stan Kroenke’s land purchase is a wakeup call to the negotiators in our area.