NFL, Los Angeles Rams Owner to Pay $790M to St. Louis for Relocating Team

The NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke have agreed to pay the city of St. Louis $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed after the team was relocated to Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.

The settlement was announced in a joint statement from officials representing St. Louis County and the city.

"This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process," St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a statement.

The NFL also released a brief statement, saying that the team and St. Louis officials "have been able to fully resolve the dispute."

With the settlement, a lawsuit filed 4 1/2 years ago has ended. St. Louis sued the NFL and Kroenke for the decision to move their Rams to Los Angeles in 2016. The lawsuit claimed that Kroenke and league officials lied about potential relocation plans as early as 2013, as well as the league ignoring relocation guidelines.

In July, a circuit judge ordered that Kroenke and other NFL officials release financial records to determine if they had committed fraud. The league's lawyers called the request "invasive" but eventually turned them over after the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the decision.

ESPN reported that the idea of St. Louis being selected for a new franchise was not seriously discussed. Distribution of funds, how much would be paid by Kroenke, and how much would be paid by other NFL team owners has not been announced.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Stan Kroenke
The NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke have agreed to pay the city of St. Louis $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed after the team was relocated to Los Angeles. Above, Kroenke walks on the field during a game against the Tennessee Titans on November 7, 2021, in Inglewood, California. AP Photo/Kyusung Gong, file

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 January 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.

Then-owner Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995 to her hometown of St. Louis, where they stayed for 21 seasons before Kroenke moved them back.

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. Frontiere died in 2008 and left the team to her children, who sold the Rams to Kroenke in 2010.

It wasn't long after that that the Rams began pushing for hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to the downtown domed stadium built with taxpayer money in the early 1990s to attract an NFL team.

St. Louis interests initially proposed a more modest upgrade, then eventually proposed a new $1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River that would be funded jointly by taxpayers, the team and the NFL. The league and the team balked.

Instead, Kroenke purchased land in Inglewood, California. SoFi Stadium opened in September of 2020 and is now home to both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, who moved from San Diego in 2017.

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."

The NFL and Kroenke had also sought to move the trial out of St. Louis, citing "undue influence" over prospective jurors. But St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh denied the request in August, a decision later backed up by a Missouri appeals court.

Kroenke and the NFL also sought unsuccessfully to have the case heard in arbitration rather than in court.

Rams Helmet
The NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke have agreed to pay the city of St. Louis $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed after the team was relocated to Los Angeles. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images