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Legal expert says expansion team possible if NFL, St. Louis settle lawsuit

“The NFL’s incentive is to avoid a billion-dollar-plus judgment,” said Wallach. “Kroenke’s incentive is to avoid writing a check to his partners."

ST. LOUIS — The Dome is empty for yet another NFL Sunday, but according to legal expert Daniel Wallach, it might be in the best interests of the NFL and the City of St. Louis to make sure it doesn’t stay that way for long.

“The city of St. Louis is in a position of great leverage here,” said Daniel Wallach. “The National Football League, and its owners, have tremendous vulnerability and exposure here.  This is a good place for the city of St. Louis to be in, but they’re not there yet.”

The next battle between the NFL and the City of St. Louis will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, when the city asks a judge to sanction owners Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, Clark Hunt and John Mara for refusing to open up their books.

“There’s no secret about the fact that these individuals are worth a lot of money,” said Wallach.

However, Wallach said more attention should be shifted to the NFL’s Joint Statement of Principles with the US Conference of Mayors that he believes bolsters the city’s case for damages.

“There are nearly 50 references on this 4-page document to local interests,” said Wallach. “It creates the classification of the City of St. Louis and the Stadium Authority as interested parties under the relocation guidelines.”

While stopping short of calling it a smoking gun, Wallach said that information could provide the factual basis that would insulate a jury verdict from appeal.

“The National Football League and Stan Kroenke are loathed to head into a trial where that possibility exists,” said Wallach.

That’s why Wallach believes there’s truth to reports that the NFL could view an expansion franchise in St. Louis as the easiest way out.

“The NFL’s incentive is to avoid a billion-dollar-plus judgment,” said Wallach.  “Kroenke’s incentive is to avoid writing a check to his partners.  The city’s incentive is to avoid going all this way and end up losing on appeal.  There are enough drivers here to push the parties to a settlement.”

The NFL is once again seeking a change of venue at the Oct. 18 hearing. 

As it stands, the civil trial is expected to start Jan. 10, 2022, and it could last as long as 8 weeks.