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Only One of Four Rams-Related Lawsuits Settled

December 12, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Only One of Four Rams-Related Lawsuits Settled
The Rams played here for 21 seasons

In writing the recent post introducing the Sunday Poll I goofed. A readers comment left on the Facebook link explains my mistake:

You are mixing up 2 different lawsuits.

The lawsuit you referenced in 2017 is St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Authority against the NFL for Breach of Contract for not being honest in their statements as the plans for a new stadium were being developed.

That lawsuit is still quite a while from any determination.

The lawsuit settled this week was a class action lawsuit of Rams Personal Seat License Owners vs. the Rams alone, claiming they had the rights to buy tickets for 30 years. Since the Rams left after 21 years, they asked for their money back and/or the right to buy seats at the new Rams stadium in LA.

The settlement in this suit was the Rams paying back 30% of the amount of the PSL.

In my hurry to finish the post I wasn’t as thorough as usual, my apologies.  After the fact, I’ve done the research I should’ve done earlier.

In September the Post-Dispatch explained four ongoing lawsuits:

  • One lawsuit involves future ownership of the Rams’ former practice facility in Earth City, known for years as Rams Park.
  • A second involves fans who bought tickets and team merchandise in the final years of the Rams’ time in St. Louis.
  • A third is a class-action suit on behalf of thousands of PSL (personal seat license) holders from the team’s 21-season stay in St. Louis.
  • The fourth, and biggest of the four, basically challenges the way the Rams, the NFL, and the 31 other NFL teams and owners went about the process of relocating the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

It’s the third lawsuit over PSLs that has been settled.

The original PSLs were good for 30 seasons, coinciding with the 30-year length of the stadium lease at what was once called the Edward Jones Dome. As such, they would be good through the 2024 season, but then the Rams moved to LA after 21 seasons in St. Louis.

The suit sought a refund for the unused nine years worth of the seat license fee plus damages, and in some cases the chance to buy Rams season tickets in Los Angeles. Citing a Forbes article, the suit said the average price of the original 46,000 licenses was $2,085 per ticket for a total of about $96 million.

The case itself involves more than 20,000 ticket accounts. (Post-Dispatch)

The other mistake I made was not making the poll question controversial, so the responses were far fewer than usual. The results can be viewed on the original post.

Again, my apologies for these mistakes.

— Steve Patterson

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Not Every IKEA Purchase Requires a Car; New ‘Planning Studios’ Will Serve Dense Urban Cities

December 10, 2018 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Not Every IKEA Purchase Requires a Car; New ‘Planning Studios’ Will Serve Dense Urban Cities

This post is about our personal IKEA shopping habits and about how IKEA is changing course to respond to a new retail landscape.

IKEA St. Louis opened on October 1, 2015, since then I’ve been many times — Mostly in my wheelchair via public transit. A few visits were just browsing, most were small purchases that would fit in the canvas bag I keep on the back of my wheelchair.

My most common IKEA St. Louis purchase has been food: This is veggie balls with vegetarian black bean sauce, steamed veggies, Swedish apple cake, and tap water. This is from 2016

Very different from the many trips I’d previously taken to the two IKEA locations in the Chicago area — my car would be stuffed to the ceiling, the receipt long, and the total in the 3-4 digits. At least twice I ordered from a 3rd party company to have a large order picked up from Chicago and delivered.

It wasn’t until September that we made a local IKEA purchase that required our car, a new bed frame.

Our biggest IKEA St. Louis purchase after checkout
We couldn’t close the trunk, we had to use twine to keep the trunk lid from staying open

This was nothing compared to earlier purchases, but with IKEA store so close there’s no reason to wait and make a big purchase. Last month I got an email from IKEA about comforters on special pricing for IKEA Family members for 3 days only. Since we needed a new comforter to go with our larger bed, I returned in my wheelchair.

My most recent visit was in the wheelchair. I plugged the chair in to recharge while I used a shopping cart to go to bedding and get a new comforter.

While IKEA St. Louis is close to downtown, that’s not true for locations in other regions. In places like NYC not everyone is willing to travel out to the edge to shop. So IKEA is forced to respond:

IKEA U.S. announced today that it is opening its first city center store in the U.S., marking the company’s ongoing transformation and commitment to bringing IKEA into the heart of urban areas. The ‘IKEA Planning Studio’ is slated to open in Manhattan in spring 2019.

Globally, IKEA is adapting and evolving to be more accessible and convenient for customers wherever they are and they recently announced the development of 30 new touchpoints in city centers over the next three years. The New York City location is the first market in the U.S. for the Planning Studio concept.

“We recognize that we are in a rapidly changing retail environment, and to be fit for long-term growth, IKEA is transforming in a way that lets us meet our customers where they are,” said Lars Petersson, Country Manager, IKEA Retail U.S. “New York City is the natural choice to open the first city center store – the most vibrant, dynamic city in the US, and the epicenter of retail, business, and culture.” (IKEA)

Manhattan is just the first in the US to get this new concept, but other cities will follow:

Ikea’s move into Manhattan comes as many retailers — including Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s — are shrinking their existing full-size stores or experimenting with opening up smaller-format locations in densely populated markets such as Manhattan, Los Angeles and Chicago. As more and more shoppers are turning to the internet to ring up purchases, companies are finding they don’t need as much real estate. (CNBC)

Don’t expect to see an IKEA Planning Studio in St. Louis. Again, our full-size IKEA is just a few miles from downtown. With the recently-opened CORTEX MetroLink light rail station the store is easy to reach via transit. A bus line stops right out front.

The idea that every purchase requires a car is false. No doubt many drive to IKEA St Louis and fill their car before returning home, but when you’re just a short transit trip away grabbing a bite to eat making a small purchase (or not) is very easy. I’m glad to see more retailers realizing they need to change to attract customers who live in dense urban centers.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Did You Think the Lawsuit Against the Rams Would Fail or be a Success?

December 9, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Did You Think the Lawsuit Against the Rams Would Fail or be a Success?
Please vote below

St. Louis received some positive football-related news last week. First, professional football is returning. Well, sort of…

The XFL obviously won’t replace the NFL in St. Louis, but it will provide an opportunity to watch pro football from February through April in what is now called the Dome at America’s Center.

The XFL has a multi-year lease with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (aka Explore St. Louis). Lease details aren’t known at this point, but one source familiar with the process said the CVC will receive more than the $25,000 per game the Rams paid to use the dome. (Post-Dispatch)

The first XFL games will begin in February 2020, so no direct competition with the NFL in terms of calendar. The XFL failed after one season, many years ago. This time around it seems better prepared/funded.  All teams will be owned by the league itself.

The other good news received last week was regarding the Rams:

The Rams have agreed to pay personal seat license-holders in St. Louis up to $24 million for the unused portion of their PSLs after the team relocated to Los Angeles.

Attorneys representing thousands of St. Louis Rams PSL-holders filed a motion for preliminary approval Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

This follows the news last week that the parties had reached a settlement in a class-action suit filed shortly after NFL owners approved the relocation of the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 2016.

The Rams also agreed to pay up to $7.4 million in attorney’s fees and expenses — a figure that will be paid separately from the $24 million. (Post-Dispatch)

In May 2017 the majority who participated in a non-scientific Sunday Poll didn’t think the lawsuit against the Rams would be successful. See: Readers: Lawsuit Against NFL Won’t Be Successful.

I never committed either way, but I did follow the court case as I got email updates over the last 18 months. Anyway, today’s poll is a followup to the May 2017 poll:

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 26 of 2018-2019 Session

December 7, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 26 of 2018-2019 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 26th meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes seven (7) new bills:

  • B.B.#175 – Coatar – An ordinance authorizing and directing the
    Mayor and Comptroller to enter into a Lease Agreement with FRONT PAGE LOFTS, LLC, to lease property located in City Block 516, for a period of Ten (10) years, and for the purposes of conducting operations of the City of Saint Louis Board of Election Commissioners, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#176 – Vollmer – An ordinance establishing the Hill Special Business District pursuant to sections 71.790 through 71.808 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, setting its boundaries; a tax rate, initial rate of levy subject to the approval of the qualified voters, and uses to which revenue may be put; creating a Board of Commissioners; and containing severability, effectiveness, and emergency clauses.
  • B.B.#177 – Guenther – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing The City to issue its Taxable Industrial Development Revenue Bonds (Anheuser –Busch, LLC Project), Series 2018, in a principal amount of not to exceed $75,000,000 for the purpose of providing funds to pay the costs of acquiring certain equipment for an industrial development project in the City; approving a plan for such project; authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to execute certain documents related thereto; and authorizing and directing the taking of other actions and approval and execution of other documents as are necessary or desirable to carry out and comply with the intent hereof.
  • B.B.#178 – Ogilvie – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to execute a permanent, irrevocable Easement, which shall give, grant, extend and confer on the City, its agents, successors, and assigns, the exclusive right to build and maintain a span of sidewalk improvements along the east side of Sulphur from the intersection of Sulphur and Manchester to the driveway to the north; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#179 – Arnowitz – An Ordinance establishing a two-way stop site at the intersection of Adkins and Poepping regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on Adkins, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#180 – Martin – An ordinance any and all private construction projects, and building or property maintenance performed within the City, except for single family homes and multifamily dwellings with four (4) or less units, that receives either City revenue bonds, City tax-credits or abatements, or, any other form of City public financing including that resulting from tax increment financing or special taxing district, or is performed on buildings or properties owned by the City that are leased to a private entity must, at a minimum, abide by all applicable City ordinances, rules and regulations, and state and federal laws, rules and regulations regarding minority participation and prevailing wages as provided under RSMo. 290.210 – 290.340 as such statute exists as of November 2018, and all applicable City ordinances, state and federal laws, rules and regulations regarding insurance and tax requirements required of public works.
  • B.B.#181 – Boyd – An Ordinance establishing a temporary, three-way stop site, which shall be and remain in place for a period of six months starting from the date on which said stop site is installed at the intersection of Blackstone and Wells regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Wells at Blackstone and regulating all traffic traveling southbound on Blackstone at Wells, and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away. The full board will meet again one week from today, then break for winter until resuming on Friday January 11, 2019.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Possible Soccer Stadium Will Not Help Downtown West Without A Neighborhood Plan

December 5, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Possible Soccer Stadium Will Not Help Downtown West Without A Neighborhood Plan

Before I begin discussing my thoughts on a possible soccer stadium in the Downtown West neighborhood, let’s take a look at the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: If awarded an MLS expansion team, the stadium could be a catalyst for the Downtown West neighborhood.

  • Strongly agree: 18 [34.62%]
  • Agree: 7 [13.46%]
  • Somewhat agree: 8 [15.38%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [19.23%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Over 63% percent voted in the affirmative, I voted “somewhat agree” because yes, it could become a catalyst. With history as a guide, it most likely won’t do anything positive for the surroundings. Busch Stadium II (1966-2006) didn’t have much of an impact on adjacent blocks for the 3 decades it stood. Our NFL dome didn’t do anything for its surroundings either — the large site to the North is still vacant.

To become a catalyst for private investment a lot of planning must happen, a form-based code adopted so every property owner contributes to the same vision. Part of the problem is the current ownership group, and the last, both want to located the stadium South of Market Street — between 20th & 22nd Streets.  In February 2016 I suggested a MLS stadium North of Market bounded by 20th Street, Market, a rebuilt 22nd Street, and Pine. Only the stadium would fit, if at all. This land is also owned by the State of Missouri. This would leave lots of room for new development South of Market Street, North of Pine, etc.

Looking East toward Union Station from 22nd Street, a new Fairfield Inn is under construction on the former site of Harry’s.

Part of the area where they want to build a stadium is where Harry’s Bar & Restaurant was located at 22nd & Market St. This small site is already being developed, from September 2017:

The Fairfield, a Marriott brand, will have about 125 rooms and a two-story parking garage along with event space on the almost 1-acre site at 2144 Market Street. Developer Equis Hospitality Management of Brentwood hopes to finalize financing for the $19.5 million project by January and begin construction in January. (Post-Dispatch)

In October it was said the hotel site wouldn’t be needed for the stadium.

Across 22nd Street from the hotel, now under construction, is the St. Louis office of the FBI. Urban Stadiums should be like Chicago’s Wrigley Field, surrounded on all sides by numerous businesses that are active even on days when the stadium is empty. Not surrounded on one side by a fenced parking lot at a fortress. I doubt the FBI has any plans to relocate.  The stadium would be focused more toward Union Station, presumably. Still, the best urban stadiums are surrounded by active properties owned by others.

Financially the deal isn’t the worst. the land hasn’t generated any property taxes for decades, so by abating property taxes it’ll continue as it would if nothing were built. The city would wave taxes on construction materials like they’re doing with the hotel and other projects. This isn’t a huge gesture because most construction materials used on these projects aren’t bought from suppliers located in the city. This might be an incentive for the contractors to buy from city suppliers rather than outside suppliers.

It’s really hard to be anything but cynical about a new stadium, likely surrounded by acres of surface parking. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised…assuming the MLS awards one of the two remaining expansion teams to St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

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