Sports | September 21, 2021 10:13 am

NFL, Rams Could Face $1 Billion Settlement in St. Louis Relocation Lawsuit

If there isn't a settlement, the NFL and LA Rams owner Stan Kroenke will face a jury trial that could be even costlier

A Los Angeles Rams helmet sits on the sideline during a game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis
A Los Angeles Rams helmet sits on the sideline during a game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Following a Missouri judge’s decision to deny the NFL’s motion for summary judgment in a 2017 antitrust lawsuit related to the Rams moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles a year earlier, the league, franchise and team owner Stan Kroenke may be looking to settle the case out of court before it goes to trial.

But the cost to settle the suit, which alleges the Rams move St. Louis to L.A. was a breach of contract, fraud, illegal enrichment and interference in business that caused significant public financial loss, could be very, very pricey.

With a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Friday and a trial date set for January 2022, it may make sense for the plaintiffs to settle ahead of the trial, and sports attorney Daniel Wallach told Front Office Sports a $1 billion figure could be a “starting point” for the settlement, warning there may be “major damages” if a St. Louis jury rules against Kroenke and the NFL.

How major?

“The plaintiffs claim the city, county, and state have lost more than $100 million in hotel, property tax, sales tax, and ticket tax revenues since the Rams left town,” according to FOS. “If the judge allows the jury to consider the valuation increase along with the $550 million relocation fee, punitive damages — which multiply damages as a deterrent — could surpass $10 billion.”

If those figures are close to accurate, settling out of the courtroom for $1 billion woulctually be a good deal for the NFL and Kroenke, who has seen his team increase in value from $1.45 billion in 2015 to its current Forbes valuation of $4.8 billion.

“The possibility of various rich and powerful people being forced to yield to the power of a judge and/or a jury makes a settlement even more likely,” per ProFootballTalk. “However, because the plaintiffs know this, that could make the price to settle the case ridiculously high. Either way, the NFL has a huge problem on its hands.”

Another reason for the league and Kroenke to settle is that the current January 2022 trial date would fall during the playoffs and lead-up to the Super Bowl — which is being played at the home of the Rams at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. With the game in L.A. and the Rams (2-0) potentially still playing at that time and maybe even in the Super Bowl itself if things break right, it would be in team’s best interest as well as the NFL’s to not have the distraction, and negative press, of a high-profile trial at the same time.

Stay tuned.