ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis region is losing out on as much as $28,000 a day the longer a settlement from Rams owner Stan Kroenke sits in a low-interest bearing account, and a member of the Regional Sports Authority board says city and county leaders have not agreed to move ahead with a plan to stop it.
The 11-member board met Wednesday and voted unanimously to seek a request for proposal(RFP) on how to move about $513 million into a high-interest bearing account. Right now, the money is getting about 1.4% interest and could be earning at least 3.4%, said David Spence, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson to serve on the board earlier this year.
“That’s an extra $11 million a year,” he said. “If we’re doing our fiduciary responsibility, we have no choice but to present the facts and hope the court of public opinion gets behind us because every day that goes by is $28,000 in lost interest.
“That is half the salary of a teacher or a policeman every single day.”
The board originally voted in June to move the money, but never got a response from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones or St. Louis County Executive Sam Page as to whether they would agree to do so.
“We’ve made suggestions and have not gotten any feedback,” Spence said. “I would say that we’re trying to be proactive about it, but have not received much in return.”
Spence said the board also learned it must seek an RFP in order to move the money, hence Wednesday’s vote.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones' office provided the following statement: "We hope to reach an agreement that will yield a high-interest investment while providing flexibility when negotiations are complete."
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s spokesman Doug Moore sent a statement, which read: “We expect to have an agreement soon on a higher interest-bearing investment. We may have a disagreement about the risk we should take in uncertain economic conditions.”
Regional Sports Authority Board Chairman the Rev. Earl Nance Jr. told the I-Team in June he hoped the city, county and board, which oversees the Edward Jones Dome, would reach an agreement on how to split the settlement among them before the end of this year.
Sources familiar with the negotiations told the I-Team city leaders are seeking $350 million of the settlement.
Nance Jr. said in June the board would settle if the money was split equally among the parties.
Spence said he wasn’t sure whether a settlement could come as soon as Nance was hoping.
The board also voted to meet every 30 days instead of every 90 days.
“We thought once a quarter was not enough,” Spence said. “So we’re going to be meeting once a month to keep a finger on the pulse of higher interest rate returns and there are more activities at the Dome and that is part of our responsibility.
“A successful negotiation is where everybody feels a little pain, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, we need to get more interest. Our proposed structure would bring in as much as $17 million a year. That’s just too much money to ignore and to not fight for. We’re all optimistic cooler heads will prevail and people will realize doing nothing is not an option. We want to fight for what is fair for all three parties and make sure the money is not wasted. We all believe this is a once-in-a-generation fund for our community.”
The Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which operates the Dome at America's Center sued Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL after Kroenke moved the team to Los Angeles in 2016.
St. Louis and St. Louis County joined the lawsuit and are now among the plaintiffs trying to figure out how to split the settlement.
Ultimately, Kroenke agreed to a $790 million settlement.
After attorney’s fees, that left $513 million for the plaintiffs.
For the first 60 days, it didn’t earn any interest. It’s been in a low-interest account ever since, Spence said.
Nance said in June that the money wasn’t moved into higher-interest accounts simply because: “Nobody ever brought it up.”