If NFL owners don't approve the Rams for relocation next week, things could get really awkward for the Rams in St. Louis for the 2016 season because team owner Stan Kroenke has basically burned every bridge he had with the city.
When the Rams filed their relocation application with the NFL on Monday, the 29-page submission included three parts: The team explained why the Los Angeles area was a good fit, why St. Louis was a bad fit and how the NFL itself would benefit from a Rams move to LA.
In the most scathing part of the 29-page document, which was obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kroenke and the Rams say that, not only is St. Louis a bad place for the Rams, but it would be bad for any NFL team.
"Any NFL club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the league will be harmed," the Rams relocation application states.
Those are strong words from the Rams.
The proposal being referred to was approved by the city of St. Louis in December. Under the city's stadium proposal, St. Louis would pitch in $150 million of the estimated $1.1 billion stadium cost. The Rams would be expected to contribute $250 million, while the NFL would be expected to kick in $300 million. At least $160 million of the cost would be paid for by the sale of personal seat licenses.
The rest of the stadium would be paid for by the state.
The Rams don't believe it's a feasible plan because they don't believe the city can support three professional sports teams.
The Rams cited several studies that "demonstrate that Los Angeles is a strong market with great opportunity, while St. Louis is a market that will in all likelihood be unable to sustain three professional sports teams."
The St. Louis Stadium Task Force strongly disagreed with the Rams' findings.
"We've reviewed the Rams' relocation application to the NFL and its team owners. The Rams' assessment of their experience in St. Louis after 21 seasons of remarkable support by fans, businesses and the community is inaccurate and extremely disappointing," the task force said in a statement. "We will remain in contact with league officials and team owners, as appropriate, in the days ahead of the meeting in Houston. Otherwise, nothing has changed. We have a spectacular stadium proposal that delivers the certainty the NFL has asked for, and we are and will continue to be an excellent home for the St. Louis Rams."
The fact that the Rams are bashing the city's proposal is almost ironic because St. Louis was the only city to send a viable stadium proposal to the NFL by the league's mandated deadline on Dec. 30.
At this point, neither Oakland or San Diego are offering any public funds to build a stadium, although that could change in San Diego if the public approves stadium funds in a June vote.
Despite the fact that St. Louis has a plan and the other two cities don't, the Rams say that Oakland and San Diego are both "substantially stronger markets than the St. Louis market."
The mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay, pointed out that the city is doing all it can to keep the Rams.
If the Rams do eventually leave, it will not be for something the region failed to do. Or the fans. #fgs— MayorSlay.com (@MayorSlay) January 6, 2016
The Rams counterpoint to the stadium proposal is that the city could've done something earlier, but they waited until the last second and wasted public money in the process.
"Twelve years of fruitless talks culminating in an intense one-year exchange of proposals in an agreed-upon process that cost the parties more than $7 million meets any standard of good-faith community engagement," the Rams' application said.
The document also states in large letters that "no NFL club would be interested in the new St. Louis stadium."
"We believe an Inglewood Super Bowl could generate as much as $50 million more in league revenue than the Carson proposed stadium based on increases in seat capacity, premium seating and total number of suites," the application said.
The Rams also added that they could host almost any NFL-related event in their proposed new stadium.
"The flexibility of the district allows for the NFL to develop office and studio space for NFL Network, NFL Media and NFL Digital, allowing them dynamic new space to grow just three miles from their current Culver City location. The performance venue can serve as a home for the NFL Draft, NFL Honors and other NFL-themed events such as NFL Films premieres," the Rams' proposal states. "The roof over the stadium would allow the NFL to move events such as the Pro Bowl, NFL Combine and other annual events to the NFL campus as well."
The Rams also pointed out that they're the most popular team in LA.
"Polling throughout the relocation process has consistently shown the Rams as a single team have more fan support than the Chargers and Raiders combined," the application said.
Although it should probably be pointed out that at least one of those polls wasn't exactly scientific because it was taken off of Twitter.
The Rams used my Twitter poll (citing it as ESPN LA) in their relocation application submitted to the NFL on Monday. pic.twitter.com/EC8fB15vAi— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 6, 2016
The problem for the Rams is that even though their stadium proposal is probably better, they're in the city that has done the most to try and keep its team, and that's why the NFL's in an impossible position.
The league is expected to vote on relocation when the owners get together on Jan. 12-13 in Houston. That's one week away and there doesn't seem to be anyone on the inside or outside who has any idea what's going to happen.