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St. Louis region announces plan for Rams settlement money

One year after Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL agreed to pay $790 million to settle a lawsuit over the team’s departure to Los Angeles, St. Louis interests have announced a plan to split up the money.

The office of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones released details of the plan Tuesday night. The tentative agreement must still be approved by the board of directors for the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA).

It calls for St. Louis city to receive $250 million, St. Louis County to get $169 million and the RSA — which owns the domed stadium where the Rams used to play — to get $70 million. Another $30 million would help pay for expansion of the America’s Center convention center, which is attached to the dome. While the dome sits in St. Louis city, county taxpayers helped pay for it.

The law firm that handled the case received $275 million in attorney fees. That left $512 million, a figure expected to grow with interest to $519.5 million by the time the money is divided up.

The lawsuit settlement was reached in November 2021, weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin. Kroenke and the NFL had failed in bids to have the lawsuit dismissed or at least moved out of St. Louis.

The suit sought more than $1 billion in damages, claiming the NFL violated its own relocation guidelines in allowing the move, and that the league and the Rams enriched themselves at the expense of the community they left behind.

Then-owner Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995 to her hometown of St. Louis. Kroenke, a Missouri real estate developer who is married to an heir of the Walmart fortune, became a minority owner. Frontiere died in 2008 and left the team to her children, who sold the Rams to Kroenke in 2010.

Soon thereafter, the Rams sought millions of dollars in upgrades to the dome, which was built with taxpayer money in the early 1990s to attract an NFL team. St. Louis interests initially proposed a more modest upgrade, then eventually proposed a new $1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River that would be funded jointly by taxpayers, the team and the NFL. The league and the team balked.

Instead, Kroenke purchased land in Inglewood, California, and moved the team with approval of league owners in 2016. SoFi Stadium opened in September 2020 and is now home to both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, who moved from San Diego in 2017.