The Missouri Supreme Court will hear a case Tuesday in Jefferson City involving ownership of the former St. Louis Rams practice facility in Earth City.
A lease agreement with the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority allows the football team to purchase the premises for one dollar in 2024.
The Authority filed a petition asking a judge to declare the purchase option inoperable in March of last year. The following month the Rams filed an arbitration demand seeking a declaration that the option is valid, signaling an ownership interest by the team.
The Judge, Michael D. Burton of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, denied a motion by the Authority to have the arbitration stayed. His decision was then overturned by the Court of Appeals for Eastern Missouri in St. Louis.
Before the Supreme Court, the Authority contends that an arbitration agreement in the original lease is invalid because the lease itself allows the Rams to take monetary claims to court while it prohibits the Authority from doing so.
The Authority is also arguing that if the high bench determines the arbitration agreement is valid, then it doesn’t apply to its petition to declare the purchase option inoperable. Judge Burton stands by his decision to move the issue before an arbitration panel.
The facility, previously known as Rams Park, is 300,000 square feet, It was vacated when the St. Louis Rams relocated to Los Angeles in January of 2016.
The sports authority, which also owns the Dome at America’s Center, formerly known as the Edward Jones Dome, leased the Earth City facility to the football team for $25,000 a year.
The one-dollar purchase arrangement was a bargaining chip in swaying the Rams to move to St. Louis in 1995.
The ongoing court action indicates the Rams want an ownership stake in the practice facility.
In June 2016, sports authority chairman James Shrewsbury told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “They want it because it’s worth a lot of money. It’s a valuable asset.”