There’s no way to lose.
That’s what Mayor Francis Slay says about an effort to explore the idea of leasing St. Louis Lambert airport to a private company.
‘We will do this carefully with one thing in mind, something exciting, to benefit the airport,” Slay said.
Mayor Slay says he started eyeing the idea of a public-private partnership for Lambert last year.
He says one positive is a potential influx of hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used for things like public safety or MetroLink.
Right now, most revenue generated at Lambert must stay there.
Wednesday, Mayor Slay signed a preliminary application with the federal government to start the process. Legal and financial firms will study whether privatizing is best for St. Louis.
But there are reasons, he says, why Lambert might be a good fit for private investment.
“We’ve got a runway that cost a billion dollars that we don't use a whole lot,” said Mayor Slay.
If officials go forward, Lambert would be the largest airport, Slay says, to participate in the federal program created back in the 1990's.
But any decision, he assures, would involve public input.
A private group has agreed to foot the bill for the exploration at no cost to taxpayers. That’s why Slay says taking a hard-look at the idea is a win-win.
"In the end, if we can't put something together that's good for the people, the airport and the region, then we won't do it, but at least, we should be taking a look at this," Slay said.
Slay notes that the Arch itself is another example of a public-private partnership.
News 4 called a number of city leaders Thursday, many certainly curious to see what this study would find.
Alderman Joe Vacarro says he would be against privatization.
The entire process could take up to two years.
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