News 4 Investigates finds region lost millions by not investing Rams money

S T. LOUIS (KMOV) – The St. Louis region scored a lot of green with the Rams’ deal, but that cash has some people seeing red.

“There’s no transparency and it’s public money,” said Peter Fiore, a former season ticket holder for the Rams. “Why is it taking so long?”

In 2016, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles. The following year, the city, St. Louis County, and the Regional Sports Complex and Convention Authority (RSA) sued the NFL and Kroenke over the move.

In November 2021, they reached a settlement of 790 million dollars. After attorneys’ fees, St. Louis was left with about $513 million.

Financial analyst Juli Niemann believes St. Louis lost millions of dollars because the people in charge of the funds couldn’t agree on what to do with them.

News 4 Investigates did some math, because interest rates are constantly changing it’s hard to pin down an exact number, but it looks like St. Louis could have made around $5 million if the money had been invested earlier.

“There is a high degree of incompetence here,” Niemann said. “Don’t sit and look at the check someone just gave you.”

Stan Kroenke’s money was transferred in December 2021. As of mid-October, it stood at $514,977,702, an increase of just over $2 million in about a year. It’s not much considering that we’re talking about more than half a trillion dollars.

The money remained in a trust for five months, earning no interest. They waited until the end of April to move it into an account, where it finally started earning interest at a low rate.

“It’s a lack of preparation, they knew this money would come eventually,” Niemann said.

If Niemann could turn back time, he would invest in a state-backed fund called the Missouri Securities Investment Program. She described the program, which is set up only for cities, counties and other political subdivisions, as “very secure.”

The fund’s interest rate has risen steadily over the past year and is now close to 4%. According to News 4’s calculations, if the money had been in this account from the start, it could have generated around $5 million, more than double the $2 million earned.

“In a private investment case, it could have been actionable, someone could have sued us. In this case, who knows what can happen, at least a few heads should roll here because of the great cost,” Niemann said.

They can’t change the past, but the money now earns significantly more interest. It took until mid-October for St. Louis County, the city of St. Louis and the RSA to agree to put the money into a more robust investment. That’s where it stands now, expected to total around $519 in January.

“The good thing is that it’s investing, so it’s not wasting,” said David Spence, vice president of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA).

Spence joined the RSA board in March and immediately expressed that the money needed to be invested. The problem was that the board wanted to move the cash, but they needed the city and county to agree.

“The wheels move slowly in certain circles,” Spence said.

The city and county will not speak to News 4 Investigates about why the money was not invested more quickly. Both declined interviews and declined to provide further comment.

For the most part, the money has been kept secret.

Last March, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page told News 4: “There’s no rush right now, we’re all very busy.” At the time Page made that statement, the money was in trust, earning no interest.

Things changed recently when the RSA started to be more open about where the money is, but when it comes to dividing it up, that happens behind closed doors.

Asked how the money is split up, Spence said: “That’s confidential. There are conversations, but we are bound by confidentiality.” He added: “You have to trust the process, in the meantime, we’re building interest.”

In a process that began in secrecy, some say it’s hard to trust the funds won’t turn into another loss for St. Louis.

Hours before this story broke, the office of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones announced that starting in January 2023, the City of St. Louis would receive $250 million plus an additional $30 million in contingency, the County of St. Louis would receive $169 million and RSA would receive $70 million. The RSA full board has yet to approve the deal.

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