The city of St. Louis is trying to retain the Rams NFL franchise. Recall that St. Louis attracted the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995 by building them a stadium at public expense and then offering the team an extremely favorable lease on top of that, one that mandates the St. Louis’ stadium rank in the top 25 percent to NFL arenas according to a series of defined measures. So the Edward Jones Dome is now up for remodeling and the city is offering $124 million in improvements. The Rams want $700 million in upgrades or they may go back to Los Angeles.
Which brings us to another franchise that has a stadium of similar age as the one in St. Louis that’s also up for some remodeling. Yup, Charlotte. And there’s every reason to expect that if the studies now underway call for big dollar upgrades at Bank of America Stadium, then Jerry Richardson and friends will look to the city of Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County to help foot the bill. This is business after all, Richardson is first-and-foremost a company (NFL) man, and making the taxpayers pick up the cost of football palaces, particularly in second-tier markets, is very much part of the NFL business model.
And if Charlotte/Mecklenburg County doesn’t pony up? There’s always LA — note that the NFL is talking about have two teams share a stadium in LA, just like the Jets and Giants do in New York City (OK, New Jersey).
So yes, be scared, this could hurt your wallet whether you’re interested in professional football or not.
Bonus observation: Curt Walton seems really in love with his $926 million city capital plan. Wonder whether he’s considered the possibility that Charlotte may have to find some money to throw at the Panthers in the next few years. And for that matter, won’t it make more sense to adopt a capital plan only after we have a good idea what’s up with the stadium improvements?