St. Louis commission has $124M plan to upgrade Rams' dome

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission unveiled a plan Wednesday that calls for $124 million in improvements to the Edward Jones Dome in hopes of making sure the city doesn't lose another NFL team.

The commission had faced a Wednesday deadline to deliver the plan to the St. Louis Rams, which leases the dome.

The lease requires the dome to be "first tier," or among the top 25 percent of all NFL stadiums in several categories. If it isn't, the Rams can break the lease after the 2014 season and potentially move. Owner Stan Kroenke is a Missouri native, but has been noncommittal about staying in St. Louis.

With Los Angeles organizers actively seeking a team, St. Louis fans are worried the Rams might leave, just like the Cardinals did after the 1987 season.

"There are a lot of people who say this can't be like Jerry Jones' Cowboys Stadium," CVC director Kathleen Ratcliffe said. "We're confident this proposal meets the requirement of 'first tier.' "

Messages left with a spokesman for Kroenke were not returned. The Rams confirmed they had received the proposal.

Ratcliffe said the plan calls for the Rams to pay for 52 percent of the upgrades. That would leave taxpayers to pay the rest, an estimated $60 million.

Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, and Mike Jones, a top aide to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, said voters in both the city and county would have to approve any additional funding.

The Rams have until March 1 to accept or reject the offer. They can also make a counterproposal. Arbitration would begin June 15 if no agreement is reached, and the arbitration process could last through the end of the year.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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