With the NFL facing a major lawsuit in St. Louis and things starting to heat up from a legal perspective, it appears that Rams owner Stan Kroenke recently tried to put an end to the four-year lawsuit by offering a huge sum of money to settle the case.
According Front Office Sports, Kroenke made an offer of $100 million to the three entities that originally filed the lawsuit back in 2017: the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.
Although that's a lot of money, it wasn't enough to settle the case.
The plaintiffs decided to turn the offer down, which now sets the stage for the case to go to court with the trial expected to begin on Jan. 10. The lawsuit, which was originally filed back in April 2017, lists all 32 NFL teams and their owners as defendants. However, Kroenke has become the face of the lawsuit for the NFL because the only reason it was filed was due to the fact that he decided to move the Rams out of St. Louis. The Rams played their final season in the city back in 2015 and then moved to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
The lawsuit was filed because the plaintiffs feel the Rams "violated the obligations and standards governing team relocations" by moving the franchise. Basically, St. Louis feels that the Rams broke the NFL's relocation guidelines when they left and the other teams are at fault because they voted to let the Rams move.
The NFL has been taking hit after hit in this case, which is likely one reason why Kroenke made a settlement offer. For one, the plaintiffs were granted access to the financial records of several prominent people in the NFL, including league commissioner Roger Goodell; owners Kroenke, Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Robert Kraft (Patriots) and John Mara (Giants); and former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The NFL also got shot down recently when trying to get the case moved out of St. Louis.
The fact that Kroenke offered $100 million to settle likely isn't a coincidence since the offered number just happens to match the amount of money the city of St. Louis said it lost after the Rams left.
From the lawsuit:
"The move to Los Angeles harmed Plaintiffs. The City of St. Louis has lost an estimated $1.85 - $3.5 million each year in amusement and ticket tax collections. It has lost approximately $7.5 million in property tax. It has lost approximately $1.4 million in sales tax. It has lost millions in earnings taxes. The City of St. Louis will have lost over $100 million in net proceeds."
If the plaintiffs turned down $100 million, they likely did it because they feel they can get more. One reason St. Louis is likely so optimistic is because they might have Richardson on their side. The former Panthers owner said in 2015 that the St. Louis stadium proposal met the guidelines for keeping the team. According to Front Office Sports, the other owners are worried about what Richardson might say in his testimony. Although he's a defendant, he might not necessarily feel compelled to protect the NFL since the league forced him to sell the Panthers back in 2017 after the team was hit with allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.
According to ESPN, if the NFL loses the case, some owners fear that the judgement against them might end up being more than a billion dollars. Kroenke seems to be well aware that the number could get that high, which is another reason why he likely offered a $100 million settlement.
The downside for the NFL is that if it the judgement does get into the billions, we could see total chaos among ownership. A report from ESPN has suggested that Kroenke is trying to renege on his promise to pay millions of dollars related to the lawsuit. Kroenke has been covering the legal fees in the case, but he doesn't believe he's responsible for paying the settlement if the NFL loses the case. Kroenke is reportedly thinking about suing the league to get out of the indemnification agreement he signed when the Rams moved out of St. Louis following the 2015 season.
Basically, if this starts to look like a case the NFL isn't going to win -- and it's inching in that direction each day -- the situation could get ugly for Kroenke, the league and every other defendant named in the lawsuit.