LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) - The NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke will pay $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed by St. Louis interests over the team's relocation to Los Angeles, a joint statement from St. Louis city and county said Wednesday.
No details of the settlement were released, and it wasn't immediately clear how much would be paid by Kroenke and how much would be covered by owners of the league's 31 other teams.
The settlement, reached in mediation, ends a 4 1/2-year-old lawsuit filed in the wake of the Rams' 2016 departure. Kroenke and the NFL had failed in bids to have the lawsuit dismissed or at least moved out of St. Louis, and courts were sympathetic to the St. Louis side's effort to disclose financial information of team owners — rulings that hastened the push for a settlement.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial Jan. 10. The lawsuit sought more than $1 billion. It claimed the team's move cost the St. Louis region millions of dollars in amusement, ticket and earnings tax revenue.
Kroenke, a Missouri real estate developer who is married to an heir of the Walmart fortune, became a minority owner when the team first came to St. Louis. He didn't become the majority owner of the Rams until 2010 after turning over control of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his son in compliance with NFL rules against owning another professional sports franchise in a different city.
Then in January 2014, Kroenke purchased a 60-acre lot in Inglewood, California making way for the franchise to return to Los Angeles after previously playing there from 1946-1994. SoFi Stadium opened in September 2020 and is now home to both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, who moved from San Diego in 2017.
Beyond losing an NFL team, St. Louis residents were incensed by Kroenke's 29-page application to relocate ahead of the January 2016 owners meeting where the move was approved. The document was critical of St. Louis for its decline in population, questioned the region's economic future and called into question whether it could support baseball's Cardinals and hockey's Blues as well as an NFL franchise.
The 2017 lawsuit filed on behalf of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority said Kroenke, other team officials and the league knew as early as 2013 that the Rams planned to relocate but lied in denying it. The lawsuit said the league ignored its own relocation guidelines in allowing the move.
The NFL, Rams and Kroenke said the guidelines aren't iron-clad and the league had the right to approve a move that was clearly in the interest of the NFL and the owners of its 32 teams.
Peter Joy, a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said the case should serve as a lesson for owners and the league to keep in mind if other team relocations are considered.
"Play by the rules," Joy said. "Keep to the contract. Don't be deceptive."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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