CHICAGO — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced agreements that would help pave the way for the future construction of a new St. Louis Rams football stadium at a site on the riverfront just north of downtown St. Louis.
In an appearance at the site Tuesday, Nixon announced that the state had reached agreements with Ameren Corp. and Terminal Railroad Association to relocate infrastructure such as transmission towers, power lines and train tracks to accommodate the future construction of a new stadium.
"This is a historic opportunity to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to this area, build an iconic stadium that will stand the test of time, and transform these deserted streets into a thriving destination for residents, workers, tourists and football fans," Nixon said in a statement.
While the agreements lay the groundwork for the preparation of the site for construction, Nixon cautioned that a financing plan still must come together.
Nixon reiterated his position that any financing plan include strong protections for taxpayers and no new tax burden, a private financial commitment from the NFL and its local franchise, public ownership, the creation of good-paying local jobs, and the redevelopment of a blighted area.
State and local officials are working to keep the team amid a threatened move to southern California by owner Stan Kroenke who is backing a multi-use development project south of Los Angeles that includes a new stadium.
The Nixon-appointed task force working on the stadium is promoting an open-air, nearly $1 billion stadium that relies on between $300 million and $350 million raised through some form of refinancing or extension of the bonds issued to finance the Rams' current venue. Several public finance sources in St. Louis said it's more likely the plan relies on an extension of the current revenue stream to finance new borrowing.
With talk circulating of multiple teams looking at the Los Angeles market, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell this week announced the establishment of a special committee of owners to manage adherence to relocation guidelines. Any move requires a three-fourths vote by NFL owners.
The Rams recently changed its lease to year-to-year as the agreement permits after the managers of the team's current home, the Edward Jones Dome, rejected $700 million in improvements required to keep the stadium in top shape as defined under the lease terms.
In other recent developments, the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority has hired stadium and design consultant John Loyd to work on the state plan. The authority, which owns the dome, recently approved funding for the hiring of various consultants.
A bill has also been filed in the Missouri Senate that would require any extension of existing bonds by the sports authority for an obligation of more than $50 million to go before the Legislature. State and legislative official recently butted heads over whether the governor has authority to act without lawmakers' approval.
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, who sponsored Senate Bill 319, said in published reports the proposal is aimed at ensuring the governor doesn't issue bonds under any circumstances without legislative approval. A group of lawmakers said they plan to ask state Attorney General Chris Koster for an opinion on the issuance question.
The Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums has warned that it believes any public funding requires a public vote based on past referendum approved by voters governing taxpayer subsidies for professional sports stadiums. The state, St. Louis, and St. Louis County together pay $20 million annually to cover debt service on remaining dome bonds issued by the authority and $4 million for maintenance on the dome bonds. The city and county tap hotel and motel taxes to cover their share. The bonds mature in 2021.