Talks emerge on new Rams football stadium; Will taxpayers foot the bill?

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 5 at 8:56 AM

ST. LOUIS—Now that arbitrators have sided with the St. Louis Rams in its dispute with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission over proposals to renovate the Edward Jones Dome, the talk has turned to the possibility of a new football stadium.

Under the Rams’ leasing agreement with the CVC, the Edward Jones Dome must reach top-tier status among the other 31 NFL stadiums. A top-tier stadium is defined as being among the top 25 percent.

The arbitrators determined that due to several deficiencies in the size and dimensions of the dome, only the Rams’ plan for rebuilding it could bring the dome to that level.

Smith said it is unlikely the CVC will go along with the Rams’ proposal, which the agency thinks could cost more than $750 million.

That means the Rams lease will probably be converted to a year-to-year lease on March 15.

Either way, if taxpayers are going to be asked to pitch in to pay for renovations or a new stadium for the Rams, city hall is promising you get to decide.

“If for some reason there are any general taxes or fees, and I can’t envision what they are, but if there are any, they’d have to go to a vote of the people,” said Jeff Rainford, St. Louis Mayor Slay’s chief of staff.

Since the Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, taxpayers have paid an average of 60 percent of the cost of new stadiums.

But in recent years, there’s been a new trend. In 2008, taxpayers paid 50 percent of the Indianapolis Colts’ new stadium, Lucas Oil Field. Then in 2009, taxpayers only paid 30 percent of the new Cowboys stadium. In 2010, the owners of the New York Jets and Giants paid 100 percent of the cost of their shared stadium.

“The city of St. Louis made the Cardinals pay 90 percent of their new stadium and this city is a Cardinals city, it’s not a Rams city,” said Patrick Rice, a professor sports economics at Webster University.

Talks of possible locations for a new stadium include the Bottle District North of the dome, the old Chrysler Plant site in Fenton and a location in Maryland Heights.

But moving outside of downtown could get the team flagged for a penalty.

“The Rams fan base as far as for the Cardinals and the Blues is so spread out in the metropolitan area and surrounding counties that if you move any of those facilities out into the county, you risk losing a good chunk of your fan base,” said Riche.

Check out photos of the CVC’s proposal

In May, the Rams proposed a $700 million project to renovate the dome.

As expected, the commission rejected the proposal due to the wide discrepancy between the Rams’ plan and one submitted by it in February, 2012. That plan called for $124 million in improvements, such as a bigger scoreboard and better club seating. It also would have required the Rams to pay 52 percent of the cost. Taxpayers would have to approve funding for the remaining 48 percent.

The Rams’ counterproposal submitted May 1 was far more elaborate, calling for a new roof with a sliding panel, replacing much of the brick exterior with a glass front, even re-routing Broadway.

In August, the CVC proposed a more elaborate plan that its orginal proposal in February, though it was though to be less expensive than what the Rams proposed in May.

 

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