ST. LOUIS, MO – DECEMBER 17: A fan displays a sign in support of keeping the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis during the final home game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 17, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

Somewhat lost in the excitement of the NFL finally returning to Los Angeles is example No. 1,034 why taxpayers should never foot the bill for pro sports stadiums.

When owner Stan Kroenke uprooted the Rams from St. Louis, he left the city to cover the debt owed on the team’s former home stadium, The Edward Jones Dome, without the dome’s biggest source of income.

St. Louis taxpayers are essentially paying $144 million for the right to have a team that no longer exists.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed told Reuters the city has asked the NFL to help cover the remaining  expenses on the Edward Jones Dome, but has not heard back.

Funding an NFL stadium is generally a foolhardy undertaking, and those eight home games every season are about the only major use these massive structures get.

As the Reuters report details, St. Louis is not the only city to suffer from misguided stadium construction, but their deal came with a particularly sinister twist.

It’s not uncommon for local governments to pay debts and maintenance on abandoned stadiums for years – even after it is demolished. Seattle’s Kingdome bonds were retired only last year, 15 years after the facility was imploded in 2000. Philadelphia has $160,000 left to pay on Veterans Stadium, more than a decade after the facility was torn down. Debt from Indianapolis’ Hoosier Dome – demolished in 2008 – still hadn’t been paid off in 2013, according to state filings.

In St. Louis, the $280 million agreement to build the Edward Jones Dome for the Rams raised eyebrows since its opening in 1995. Unlike other stadium deals, the St. Louis contract included a clause requiring the 67,000-seat dome be maintained to a first-tier standard, meaning the facility must be considered among the top quarter of all NFL football facilities.


As Oakland residents watch their Raiders desperately flirt with other cities, they can take comfort in the fact their city is making the responsible, correct decision. Losing a team is certainly hard, but fans only need look to St. Louis to see it can be so much worse.

About Ben Sieck

Ben is a recent graduate of Butler University where he served as Managing Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Butler Collegian. He currently resides in Indianapolis.