ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams took a step toward a possible move back to the West Coast, notifying the city's Convention and Visitors Commission on Monday that they intend to shift to a year-to-year lease agreement for their use of the Edward Jones Dome.
The CVC, which operates the dome, confirmed the move Monday. The Rams referred comments to the CVC and general reaction was that it was a procedural step.
"While the lease will now run year-to-year, all other lease terms remain the same," CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe said in a statement. We look forward to working with Rams' management in preparation for the 2015 football season in the Edward Jones Dome."
Rams billionaire owner Stan Kroenke is part of a joint venture that announced plans earlier this month for an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs.
Organizers behind the project submitted more than 20,000 petition signatures Monday to get the plan before voters in Inglewood, where the stadium would be built. The Los Angeles Times said that was more than twice as many as needed to put the measure on the ballot later this year.
Any move would be subject to approval by the NFL and its owners. The NFL has already said no moves would be made in time for next season.
Under terms of a 30-year lease agreement reached in 1995, the Rams had the ability to convert the lease to annual terms if the dome was not deemed among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums based on various criteria. The team had until Wednesday to tell the city of its plans.
The CVC had little chance of meeting the standards given 22 of 32 teams are playing in stadiums built after 1995.
St. Louis officials are working directly with the NFL in efforts to keep football in the nation's 20th-largest television market and have proposed a new stadium just north of the dome. Through a spokesman, Kroenke again declined comment.
"We appreciate the Rams personally informing us of their decision here in St. Louis as well as their submission of petition signatures for the ballot initiative in Inglewood," the Governor's Task Force said in a statement. "Neither of these actions was unexpected, nor do they have any effect on our stadium plans for the north riverfront of St. Louis.
Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest market, has been without a team since 1995 when the Raiders moved back to Oakland and the Rams moved from Anaheim to St. Louis.
Kroenke bought the Rams in 2010 after owner Georgia Frontiere died. The dome is outdated mostly because so many new stadiums have been built since the lease agreement.
Prior to Kroenke's purchase, the Rams and CVC had worked together on incremental improvements to the dome. Negotiations about a stadium overhaul began in early 2012 but sides remained far apart. The commission had proposed a new glass addition, outdoor terraces and a new scoreboard, improvements of less than $200 million, with the Rams picking up half of the cost.
The Rams countered with a more elaborate and expensive plan featuring a sliding roof that city officials said would cost at least $700 million.
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