Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/14/12
ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams would like to make the Edward Jones Dome a more attractive destination for a Super Bowl, calling for more and reconfigured seats and improvements including a roof panel that could be opened slightly to allow more natural light. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released details of the plan Monday despite the team's desire to keep it private. The team's proposal also calls for reconfiguring and adding some 6,000 seats; upgrading club areas and amenities for patrons of club seats; improved facilities for the Rams and visiting teams; and other improvements such as better restrooms and concessions. The plan would also require demolition of the east side of the dome and re-routing a nearby street. A glass wall would replace the brick facade on the east side of the structure. It does not cite a cost estimate but said the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau, which owns the lease, can now develop a financing plan by June 1. Messages seeking comment from the CVC and from the St. Louis mayor's office were not immediately returned. In a statement, Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff said the negotiation process is "confidential under the parties' agreements. The Rams will continue to respect those confidentiality obligations and will not comment on the Rams' plans or the process we are following." The original 30-year lease when the Rams arrived from Los Angeles prior to the 1995 season requires the dome to remain among the top quarter of the 31 NFL stadiums. Unless upgrades are made, the Rams can legally break the lease and potentially move after the 2014 season. The CVC presented a plan in February that called for spending 124 million on upgrades, including better club seats, a new scoreboard and windows along the sides offering more natural light. But that plan had the Rams paying 52 percent of the cost. Taxpayers in St. Louis city and county would have to approve paying for the remainder, or roughly 60 million. The team rejected that proposal and in the report released Monday said "the Rams disagree that the implementation of the CVC 2012 plans would result in the improvement of the facilities and each of the specified components to first tier status." The team's counterproposal on May 1 wasn't made public. Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, made open records requests, citing the fact that the dome was built largely with taxpayer money. Koster's decision to release the document was in answer to those requests. A sketch provided with the plan shows that the roof panel would not retract to expose the entire field but would tilt open enough to allow natural light on game days. The proposal refers to it as an "operable roof panel." The seating improvements "should allow the seating bowl to be economically expanded to accommodate a Super Bowl event," the plan stated. Arbitration is the next step if no agreement is reached by June 15. The arbitration process could last through the end of the year. Owner Stan Kroenke's refusal to rule out moving the team has football fans in St. Louis worried that the city could lose an NFL franchise for the second time in a quarter of a century. The football Cardinals moved to Arizona after the 1987 season in large part because of stadium issues. Owner Bill Bidwill wanted a stadium of his own rather than sharing Busch Stadium with baseball's Cardinals. Kroenke, a minority owner of the Rams since their arrival in his native Missouri, purchased the team from the heirs of Georgia Frontiere, who died in 2008. Los Angeles is trying to get an NFL team and Kroenke has ties to the Los Angeles area, including an estate in Malibu. He recently was an unsuccessful bidder for baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers. The dome lease is troublesome because in the nearly two decades since the Edward Jones Dome opened, several NFL teams have opened new open-air or retractable-roof stadiums. The St. Louis stadium is smaller than many and lacks some of their amenities.
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