Negotiations over the future of the Edward Jones Dome are still in their infancy. Already, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is urging rejection of the plan submitted by the St. Louis Rams on May 1, which was revealed on Monday, on the basis of the cost of the project as well as the impact from closing the Dome for up to three years.
The Associated Press reported comments from the Mayor's office on Monday afternoon. The $700 million figure now associated with the Rams' renovation plan comes from an estimate of a construction firm hired to analyze the Rams' plan. The Post-Dispatch reported estimates that put the project between $500 and $750 million.
So already we have competing figures on cost.
Another cost the Mayor's office warned about was the cost of closing the Dome for construction. Chief of staff Jeff Rainford warned that the Dome could be closed for up to three years at a cost of $500 million in lost convention center business.
That's a curious estimation and certainly at the high end of the spectrum. It's not a perfect comparison, but construction on the Vikings' new stadium will force the Metrodome to be closed for one year prior to its scheduled 2016 completion.
The Mayor's office stressed that the Dome talks were in the early stages. Rainford also made it clear that the city is not committed to keeping the Rams in St. Louis at all costs.
"The CVC is taking the middle ground, the commonsense ground, which is we want to keep the Rams in St. Louis but at an affordable price and in a way that makes sense for the people of St. Louis," Rainford said.
In any instance, the Rams and the CVC are likely headed to arbitration. There is one hitch in that process. If the CVC agrees to whatever plan is worked out in arbitration, it locks the Rams into their lease until 2025, while also locking the city into a renovation project.
One thing to remember in this process is that it will drag out over months and possibly years. Even if the two sides reach an agreement in arbitration, any fix calling for public dollars is likely going to involved elected officials at the state and local level.