ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-It will be only one trip across the pond for the St. Louis Rams. The team is withdrawing their commitment to play a home game in London in 2013 and 2014. The St. Louis Rams will still play the New England Patriots at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 28, 2012.
In a news release, the team stated:
“In an effort to focus on the Edward Jones Dome First Tier Process with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the St. Louis Rams are withdrawing their commitment to play a home game in London in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.”
Also in the statement, Kevin Demoff, Rams Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, says, “ We have worked closely with the NFL in coming to this decision and remain key supporters of the international series and its’ objectives.”
The St. Louis Convention and Visitor's Commission has issued a statement saying the decision by the Rams will have no impact on negotiations to upgrade the dome.
But the negotiations for the dome had a big impact on this decision.
The Rams and the city are in arbitration now on improvements to the dome. They're hundreds of millions of dollars apart. And if the dome isn't one of the NFL's top stadiums the lease says the Rams are free to leave town after the 2014 season. The bottom line is these talks started around the first of the year. And one big reason the Rams cancelled the London games in 2013 and 2014 is that negotiations are a lot tougher than they thought.
The second reason, the Rams are still not a very good NFL team. So the team apparently got an earful from season ticket holders. They asked the Rams in essence, how can you agree to play three home pre-season games in London, games we've paid to see when the team you're putting on the field isn't very good?
So it appears that a combination of angry fans and tough negotiations with the city over upgrading the dome combined to blitz Rams plans for London games in 2013 and 2014.