St. Louis authorities have agreed to settle the 2017 lawsuit they filed against the NFL over the Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles for $790 million.
The financial settlement, announced by St. Louis mayor Tishaura O. Jones and county executive Sam Page on Wednesday, ensures the league and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke will avoid the potential spectacle of a jury trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 10 – weeks before Los Angeles is set to host Super Bowl 56.
“This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process,” Jones and Page said in a statement.
“We appreciate the effort by all parties to reach a settlement and thank Judge Jack Garvey for his service as mediator,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
Wednesday’s resolution comes more than four years after the city and county of St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority filed suit against the NFL and its 32 teams. They alleged that the Rams and the league violated relocation protocols and breached their contract with the city when Kroenke moved the team to Los Angeles in 2016.
In the years since, the league has suffered a string of losses in the case – including unsuccessful attempts to get the lawsuit dismissed or moved outside of St. Louis.
It has also seen some unflattering material come to light in the discovery process – including a goodbye letter from the Rams to the city that was circulated internally as the “AMF letter” – as in “adios, mother (expletive).”
Multiple NFL officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell, and team owners were also deposed in connection with the lawsuit, and a judge had required several owners to turn over personal financial information ahead of the scheduled trial.
Washington University in St. Louis sports business professor Patrick Rishe described the settlement in a statement as “a landmark decision in the business of sports.”
“When this lawsuit began four years ago, I think most people in the sports industry and elsewhere thought it would be a joke. Probably thought it was sour grapes,” said Rishe, the director of the sports business program at the university’s Olin Business School.
“So in that light, a settlement of $790 million is not only extraordinarily substantial, it’s truly unprecedented.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported the terms of the settlement Wednesday morning.
Contact Tom Schad at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.