St. Louis might be stuck giving Rams a $19 million piece of land for one dollar

The city of St. Louis is probably really starting to regret the favorable lease that it gave to the Rams back in 1995.

When the Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis following the 1994 season, the team signed a lease with the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) that called for the Rams to pay just $25,000 a year in rent for the right to use the football facility in Earth City as the team's practice facility.

Now that the Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, they don't need the practice facility anymore, so that means the land goes back to the RSA, right?

Wrong.

Thanks to a favorable lease, the Rams will have the option of buying their practice facility in 2024 for just one dollar, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That's right, for just one dollar, the Rams will own their practice facility and the 27-acre parcel of land that it sits on.

That chunk of land is worth $19 million, according to a recent appraisal. So the Rams could potentially make a tidy $18,999,999 profit if they exercise the clause in their lease and then sell the land.

It's not going to be that easy, though.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the RSA has filed a lawsuit against the team to prevent them from buying the land. The lawsuit argues that the Rams' lease will expire on April 30, and that if the lease expires, the Rams will no longer have the right to purchase the land in 2024 (what would've been the 29th anniversary of the team's move).

In a statement, RSA chairman Jim Shrewsbury said that his group is trying to figure out what to do with the land, and they can't do that if they don't know who's going to own it in the future.

"The training facility is an important asset for the authority and for the region," Shrewsbury said, via ESPN.com. "Missouri law is clear that there is no valid purchase option on the property. In order to make sure that the Authority can properly market, value and use this asset, we have taken action to obtain certainty about the invalidity of the option."

The problem for the RSA is that the lease was worded in a way that might prevent them from beating the Rams in court. The lease "shall survive any termination of the lease regardless of the reason for such termination, and lessee shall after any termination continue to have the right to exercise the option as herein provided," the lease states, via the Post-Dispatch.

The Sports Complex Authority wants to sell the land and use the potential $19 million from the deal to help pay for the more than $16 million the authority spent trying to push a new stadium in St. Louis to try to keep the Rams from leaving.

It's not clear what the Rams are going to do yet, but if they're allowed to purchase the land, you have to think they will. The team's owner, Stan Kroenke, has made millions of dollars in real estate, and the chance to buy a $19 million piece of land for just one dollar would probably be too good to pass up.

The lawsuit from the Sports Complex Authority is at least the third one the Rams have been hit with since leaving St. Louis. 

Rams owner Stan Kroenke might walk away from St. Louis with a nice chunk of land. (USATSI)
Rams owner Stan Kroenke might walk away from St. Louis with a nice chunk of land. (USATSI)

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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