As the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission begins its negotiations with the St. Louis Rams today, there are a couple of things to remember.
First, the lease with the St. Louis Rams requires the CVC to bring the Edward Jones Dome up to top tier, as defined in the lease itself. The lease says nothing about building a new facility. It only talks about improvements to the existing facility. Not every sportswriter (or fan) yet understands the "top tier" requirement in the Rams lease - but you should. It is not about how the entire Edward Jones Dome compares to the many football stadiums constructed after the Dome. Rather, it is about how a dozen or so elements or features in the Dome as defined in the lease compare to those same features in the rest of the league.
Second, the proposal delivered to the Rams today is a good and credible one. It meets the terms of the lease both in deadline and in substance.
Third, had the CVC followed the advice of some sports reporters and surrendered to the notion that only a new stadium would suffice, the CVC would have been in default and the Rams would be able to leave the Dome . The CVC, happily, has assembled a very competent team that has actually read the lease.
So, what happens next? That's spelled out in the lease. The Rams have 30 days to accept the proposal. If they don't, they will have 90 days to submit one of their own. If the CVC does not accept that, the interpretation of the lease goes to arbitration.
Today's proposal begins negotiations that must, under the terms of the lease, take place out of the public eye. There will be financial and strategic documents whose general disclosure would harm the private party with whom the CVC is negotiating. There are legal, economic, and strategic documents that the CVC needs to keep confidential so that it can negotiate successfully. Missouri Sunshine Law clearly allows those exceptions. Everything else, including the CVC's plans to satisfy the "top tier" requirements of the lease, should - and will be - matters of public and open record.
Finally, and I probably should have put this at the top of this entry, I want to make my position on paying for enhancements to the Dome clear: new local public dollars spent to make the facility "top tier" will be subject to the prior vote of the people. If the CVC gets an agreement with the Rams, YOU will get the final say.