Back when St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke picked up his team and moved it to Los Angeles, I noted here that hey, I wondered if PSL holders could sue for breach of contract, since they now held the right to buy tickets that didn’t exist? As it turned out, they could, and did, and won, sorta. I did not suggest that the city of St. Louis could sue as well, and for 15 months I was right — until yesterday:
The city, the county and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are suing the National Football League over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago.
The 52-page suit filed Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court lists the National Football League and all 32 NFL clubs as defendants and seeks damages and restitution of profits.
If you’re wondering, “Hey, isn’t the NFL one of those cartel thingies where franchises have the right to move wherever, so long as the other owners say it’s okay?”, why yes. it is. But St. Louis’s lawyers have thought of that, arguing that the Rams “failed to satisfy the obligations imposed by the League’s relocation rules,” and so therefore the public is entitled to damages for:
- Breach of contract (against all defendants).
- Unjust enrichment (against all defendants).
- Fraudulent misrepresentation (against the Rams and team owner Stan Kroenke).
- Fraudulent misrepresentation (against all defendants).
- Tortious interference with business expectancy (against all defendants except the Rams). This last count basically alleges that the NFL and the other 31 teams “intentionally interfered” with the business relationship between the St. Louis plaintiffs and the Rams by approving the relocation.
The suit says that the city of St. Louis is losing an estimated $1.85 million to $3.5 million a year in amusement and ticket tax revenue (true as far as it goes, though if bereft Rams fans are spending some of their entertainment dollars on other amusements, the city is getting some of that tax money back) plus about $7.5 million in property tax (whuh?), $1.4 million in sales tax revenue (again, not so much if some fans spend that money on other St. Louis activities), and “millions in earning taxes,” whatever those are. The city and county aren’t saying how much they’re looking for in damages, but if the above is any guide, it would have to be in excess of $100 million.
In essence, the city and county are saying, “Hey, no fair, you said you weren’t gonna move the team unless you had to, and then you did anyway, you cheaters” — which doesn’t seem particularly like a legal argument, but then, I am extremely not a lawyer. Whatever happens in the end, though, the discovery phase of this suit promises to be oh, so tasty, as St. Louis tries to dredge up every last detail of how the relocation decision was made and whether it followed the league’s rules that the NFL totally doesn’t just make up whenever it feels like it. We may get to be a fly on that wall after all.