CHICAGO — The task force leading Missouri's efforts to keep the St. Louis Rams has hired Columbia Capital Management LLC for advice on stadium financing issues.
Overland, Kansas-based Columbia was among a new round of firms or consultants hired by the task force to help develop stadium plans. The task force also released renderings of a nearly $1 billion football venue to replace the National Football League team's current home at the Edward Jones Dome.
Columbia Capital "will provide guidance on funding strategies to develop the financing plan for a new stadium," said a task force statement. The firm will work with state finance officials and be paid by the state $325 per hour for its work.
The firm has offices in St. Louis, Chicago, and Los Angeles and is led by president Dennis Lloyd. It has close ties to the state and local issuers and the firm advised the state on a 2013 refunding of Dome bonds.
"Bringing these experts together is further evidence of our sincerity to keep the Rams in St. Louis and the progress we've made in those efforts in just the past several weeks," said Dave Peacock, co-head of the task force.
The other consultants include California-based Barrett Sports Group, LLC, a sports management consulting firm that will provide a comprehensive review and evaluation of NFL stadium deal structures and leases, and assist in developing cash flow models for the new stadium and the team; Downtown Now!, Inc. , the development entity aligned with Downtown STL, Inc., a community based organization that works on increasing downtown investments through public/private partnership; FleishmanHillard, which was hired to provide communications advice; and Philadelphia-based SMG, a private facility management company that will work on pre-development consulting services, including developing economic modeling and forecasting for the new stadium project.
The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority board has approved the contracts. The authority intends to release this week a request for proposals for construction management. A spokesman for the authority and task force said last month Thomspon Coburn was hired as special counsel to the authority on stadium financing matters.
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 task force appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to work 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.
The Rams recently changed its lease to year-to-year as the agreement permits, after the managers of the Edward Jones Dome, rejected $700 million in improvements required to keep the stadium in top shape as defined under the lease terms. The RCSCA contracts with the Visitors Commission to operate the stadium and it leases the stadium to the team.
The authority issued $256 million of 30-year appropriation backed bonds under a complex agreement between the city, county, state, commission and team in 1991 to finance the stadium and an expansion of the adjacent convention center.
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.