The Los Angeles Rams have benefited from a Missouri Supreme Court decision over its old practice facility in the St. Louis area. The high bench handed down a unanimous decision Tuesday siding with the Rams in a lease agreement dispute.
The lease with the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority allows the football team to purchase the practice facility 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, an option that’s included in the lease. In doing so, the football team is seeking a declaration that the option is valid, which signals that the team is interested in owning the property it had abandoned.
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.
In its decision handed down Tuesday, the Supreme Court affirmed Judge Burton’s ruling. It acknowledged that there are inconsistencies in the lease agreement, but said the parties’ intent to arbitrate disputes is clearly stated.
The Sports Authority had sought to move the dispute into court, but will now be forced to negotiate with the Rams through an arbitrator over future ownership.
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.
In June 2016, sports authority chairman James Shrewsbury explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch why the team would be interested in owning its old practice building. “They want it because it’s worth a lot of money,” said Shrewsbury. It’s a valuable asset.”