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Authorities debate transparency on Rams settlement talks

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 8:00 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- News 4 Investigates is learning new details in a process that’s been secretive, as St. Louis tries to split nearly $513 million from the historic Rams relocation settlement.

The Rams left St. Louis in 2016. In 2017 the city, county, and Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) sued over the deal.

Stan Kroenke and the NFL settled for $790 million in November 2021 to keep the case from going to trial. After lawyer fees, St. Louis walked away with nearly $513 million.

For months News 4 Investigates has been trying to learn what’s happening with the settlement money, but the city, county, and RSA have been privately discussing how to split the money.

On Wednesday the RSA, the board that oversees the dome, held a meeting where the Rams settlement money ultimately made it on the agenda.

During the meeting, the RSA spent nearly two hours in a closed-door session discussing the settlement money. When the meeting was reopened to the public, the board discussed the settlement and referenced conversations held during the closed portion of the meeting.

Two commissioners proposed a resolution calling for the funds to be handled in “an open and transparent manner.”

“I felt like we needed to make a statement about being open and transparent in the process,” said RSA Commissioner Joseph Blanner, one of the members behind the resolution.

Vice Chairman David Spence was the second member behind the resolution.

“We wanted to go out and say listen we are negotiating, we’re doing it in good faith, we’re trying to be good stewards of the money,” Spence said.

Other commissioners had a different stance.

“We are not negotiating in public, we are not negotiating with the media,” said Chairman Rev. Earl Nance Jr.

The RSA ultimately opted to table voting on the resolution.

News 4 asked Nance why he thought it was a good idea to talk about public funds privately.

“I think it’s a good idea because there are sensitive issues that I think are handled better in private and then report to the community what we have come up with after we are done,” Nance answered.

When asked if the money will be split evenly between the city, county, and RSA, Nance indicated he was concerned about that.

“No that’s why we’re still talking,” Nance answered.

Several commissioners discussed holding a special session to discuss the Rams settlement money, but no date was set during the open meeting.

The RSA also discussed wanting to move the settlement funds into a higher yield investment account. Commissioners claimed changing the account the money is in could net $15 million a year compared to the current investment account which is projected to yield nearly $2 million a year. The city and county would have to sign off on changing the account where the settlement money is being held.